Of all the things Jesus taught His disciples, the way of humility was one of the hardest for them to grasp. His disciples thought they were following a revolutionary: someone who would overthrow the Romans and help God’s chosen people regain their rightful place in the world. This is why these words from Jesus in Mark the 10th chapter immediately follow a request from James and John to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand when He conquers and begins His reign. What then is all this business about coming not to be served but to serve?
Though they couldn’t see it at the time, Jesus’ approach to leadership was in fact, deeply revolutionary. When we look at Jesus, we see that true glory is only found through humility. That strength is found in weakness. Good Friday must precede Easter Sunday. This is the upside down nature of God’s kingdom, and the invitation of the gospel is for us to reframe our lives in light of this value system.
Jesus is fully aware of the radical nature of servant leadership. He knows it stands in direct opposition to the way people “make it” in this world. Yet He is also fully aware of the destruction that comes from inflated egos and leadership power plays. He knows that when we enter the rat race and fight our way up the corporate ladder, we will eventually find ourselves bitter, broken, frustrated, and burnt out.
Because Jesus loves us deeply, He says to His disciples, “It shall not be so among you” When He says this, Jesus redefines what it means to be a leader. In God’s kingdom, a leader doesn’t have to have the corner office. A leader isn’t someone with power over employees or an agenda to push. No, in God’s kingdom, a true leader is the person who has the courage to walk the way of humility. A servant leader sees their brokenness and weakness, not as a source of shame or embarrassment, but as a way to point beyond themselves to the one who came, and has graced them with His presence and power “not to be served but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many.”
Our prayer: Lord help us to understand and walk in the fullness of servant leadership. Let our first response be what can we do, as opposed to what can I get. Help us through the power of Your Spirit to join You in the work of Your will, as a servant leader Amen.