Last we left Thor, (in Thor Ragnarok) he was battling Surtur (a fire being). Having obtained the “skull of Surtur,” he is ready to leave. He holds up his hammer and calls for Heimdall, the keeper of the Bifrost (the rainbow bridge that carries people between realms/planets). Nothing happens…
Why? Because, as we see in the next scene, Heimdall is no longer the keeper of the Bifrost. Now Scurge is.
What type of leader do you want representing you?
Scurge and Heimdall represent two very different viewpoints and expressions of leadership — of what it means to be a public servant. They are the extremes — the opposite ends of the polarity. Most of us fall somewhere in between — traveling along the polarity depending upon what the situation is, what is happening in our innermost self, what is happening around us in the outer world.
Heimdall is solid, strong and wise. He is committed to his post. When he is the keeper of the Bifrost, you find him alone, standing at the helm (so to speak). He is vigilant. His attention is focused upon his responsibility to his king and to his people.
Heimdall is gifted with ‘vision,’ seeing all the souls in the Nine Realms that the Bifrost is connected to, as well as prophesies. From this gift of vision he has acquired a deep wisdom that he fully embodies. Throughout the three Thor movies, his choice is always for the protection of the people of Asgard. He risks his life numerous times to bring safety to the realms. The decisions he makes (even if they are in the grey areas) are always intended for the higher good of the people of Asgard.
When we first meet Heimdall in this film, he has taken the Bifrost sword to guard the Nine Realms from the evil of Hella (the Goddess of Death). He is leading the people of Asgard to safety, a few at a time, fighting the evil that is currently taking hold of Asgard.
Scurge, not so much. When we first meet Scurge he is impressing two young Agardian women, “Heimdall was an idiot. This job should have made him rich…..The Bifrost gives me access to everything that the Nine Realms has to offer. It is all mine for the taking… Behold my stuff.”
Scurge is in charge of the Bifrost for one reason, and one reason alone — to warn “Odin” (King of Asgard) of Thor’s return. Scurge has no idea what it means to be a public servant. He uses his power to obtain wealth, to impress women, to increase his social status in Asgard. At the current moment, he has no capacity to see beyond his own self.
As the film continues, he makes choices again and again for his own self-preservation. These choices lead him to a moment he is unprepared for — a moment when he has to do something he is not sure he wants to. He stands there unable to perform the action required of him.
What type of leader do you want to be?
Jesus has something to say about true leadership:
“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9: 35)
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9: 23-24)
At the beginning of the Passover Feast (The Last Supper), Jesus stood, put on an apron, filled a bowl with water and began washing his disciples feet. When he was done he spoke these words, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.” (John 13)
Real leadership is born from inner strength and values.
Real leadership is born from a place of humility.
Real leadership is born from a deep desire to work toward the greater good for everyone.
Real leadership is born from feeling — compassion — empathy — for those one is leading, serving.
Real leadership is service — servanthood.
There is a reason we call our elected officials public servants. There is a reason our clergy are known as servants of God.
In the three Scriptures above, Jesus makes it very clear that the foundation of leadership is servanthood. You must be willing to wash the feet of those you serve — to stand in their shoes — to understand the experience of those you lead/serve. If as a leader, I did not do this, how would I know what my those I serve really need? How could I guide and advocate for them? How can I truly and authentically connect with them?
What does authentic leadership feel like?
Compassion is born out of a willingness to listen, to feel, to experience, to understand, to be with. The most powerfully transformative leaders are those who lead with their hearts, from a place of deep Compassion and Justice.
I remember the Iranian Hostage Crisis when I was in elementary school. President Carter chose to truly lead this country. “President Carter committed himself to the safe return of the hostages while protecting America's interests and prestige. He pursued a policy of restraint that put a higher value on the lives of the hostages than on American retaliatory power or protecting his own political future. The toll of patient diplomacy was great, but President Carter's actions brought freedom for the hostages with America's honor preserved.” (jimmycarterlibrary.org) I have always had tremendous respect for President Carter and his willingness to focus upon those he served instead of his own self-interests — re-election. During this crisis, President Carter truly lived out Jesus’ words about leadership: bearing his cross daily and humbling himself.
Not so much for us now. Many of our elected officials are more like Scurge than Heimdall. Many are more focused upon themselves and their friends. They are collecting stuff (such as sound-proof phone booths, private planes, tax-breaks, etc.) They pass laws at the expense of their constituents — laws that harm those in need. Their words are empty. Their actions self-serving.
I don’t know about you, but I have the same question as Thor upon his arrival in Asgard, “Where’s Heimdall?”
Pastor Jocelyn Emerson weaves together her training as a Light and Energy worker, Reiki master, spiritual director, and Pastor with her life experience as a mystic and contemplative to offer a space of trust, safety, and honesty to support you on your life's journey.