Mark Meynell spoke to us about his recent book A Wilderness of Mirrors. Mark is currently Associate Director of Langham Partnership having previously been Senior Minister at All Souls Langham Place. His book touches on key issues of trust and leadership in society, and how these issues can be transformed through the gospel. In the interview Mark says: “The only way we can recapture trust is to start with ourselves and prove ourselves trustworthy and I think the only way to do that is over time to serve and love. There really is no quick fix to this, even to ask the question, where’s the quick fix is to fail before we start because it proves you’ve misunderstood the problem, I think our society is suspicious of quick fixes because they don’t work.”
Asked how we might go about solving the crisis of trust in society Mark answers: “I don’t think there is anyone in human history who has even close to what Jesus did. It was like a bright light coming on in my mind when I suddenly realised how power operates has been a concern of the Bible since Genesis 3, there are four words that Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel when he’s talking about ‘you know how the Gentiles laud it over one another’ and then he says four key words: ‘not so with you’, and then he immediately goes on to give the model, the alternative model, the son of man comes to serve and not to be served and to give his life as a ransom, so it is service and sacrifice. And that is what makes the difference, what makes the difference between gentile authority what we could call worldly authority, and Christ shaped authority, it is all about service and sacrifice, for the flourishing of those who he or she serves. And so, I think we’ve got to get back to those key roots.
“There’s a lot of management speak out there about servant leadership but to my mind it seems very often manipulative and a bit of a front, I’ve got to give the impression of serving people so that they do what I want, which is slightly underhand. You don’t get that sense with Jesus, it is profound self-sacrifice, of course the cross is the key. Now, people outside the Christian sphere are not going to accept that at all, but it is astonishing how close people get to that without recognising where it comes from, and Jesus was the first in history to talk like this, and that legacy is still with us and we’ve got to recapture that and we’ve got to convince people who know us that, one, they can get to know us, we’re not divorced by a camera or TV studio that makes us separate, it’s not about spin it’s not about being exposed, but being realistic, that I am here to serve.
“I know for a fact that there are politicians and business leaders, politicians on both sides of the house, who have won constituents around to them even if they’re not necessarily the same political colours because they know they are there to serve and they’ll vote for the guy because they really serve the constituency, and there’s something authentic about that.”