Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask . . . Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” . . . Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:35, 37, 43-45
I wonder what kind of earthly leaders James and John would have been if the Holy Spirit hadn’t changed their hearts. What audacity! They come before Jesus asking him to do whatever they ask. What selfishness! This was all about them. How is power and authority used and abused by people who are so audacious and self-centered? Hitler and Stalin conquered nations and in the process eventually ran their countries into the ground and their people into poverty and fear. We may demand respect as kings and queens in our own home and in the process drive our marriages into ruin and our spouses and children into fear and despair.
Jesus teaches his disciples, and us, that Christian leadership is not about authority and power, audacity and selfishness. Leadership for the followers of Jesus is all about selflessness and service. Jesus is the perfect example. Jesus had power and authority, but he always used that power and authority to serve others. For example, he used his power and authority to benefit others as he healed diseases and cast out demons.
The best example of Jesus’ leadership is his selflessness and service in saving you and me. He didn’t live for himself; his life was all about saving us from our selfish ways and the eternal punishment of hell that our selfishness deserves. He served us by living a perfect life, a perfection that covers our imperfection. He served us with his innocent death on Calvary’s cross as he received God’s wrath for our sins. Jesus leads us from the dungeons of hell into the very halls of heaven with his selfless service!
Are you a parent? Be a selfless servant in your home. Serve your spouse and your children with loving acts of service, even though they don’t always deserve it. Are you a student? Serve your teachers with attention and respect, even if they are at times boring. Are you an employer? Serve your employees with a deserving wage and a listening ear. Are you an employee? Serve your employer with honest, faithful work and respect for your boss. Are you a leader in your church? Remember that God has put you there to serve people in your congregation and outside of it.
No matter what your station or position in life, remember it’s all about service. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” and that includes you!
Prayer: Lord, give me a servant heart like yours. Amen.