Son of Man
came not to be
but to serve
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 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.”
In our world, the leaders are thought to be the wealthy, the connected, those in positions of authority, the super smart, super athletic, innovators, organizers, etc.
There are also many books on leadership and more still being written everyday meant to teach the rest of us how to be one of those leaders. “Communicate cleanly, have a vision for change, encourage feedback, simplify, break the rules, know your limits, have a positive attitude, reward creativity”… and so on. Not one I found suggests being servant of all.
The greatest leader on earth came to serve — and give his life as ransom for many. Crazy? Not if you are Jesus. He had everything to gain by emptying himself for us. Did that make the job easy? It doesn’t sound that way from the Gospel narratives. It sounds more like every move was a well-weighed leadership decision to obey his Father’s voice and stick to his mission to reveal his Father to a needy world, whatever the cost.
Can you imagine thinking of your mission in life being to die on purpose for someone else? And oh, by the way, in the meantime, to serve everyone as if you were their slave, while still somehow maintaining a leadership role as a teacher? Mind boggling.
Jesus words to correct his disciples’ thinking about being the greatest leaders must have shocked and mystified them, even if it didn’t humble them! I imagine they were thinking, “Wut?” Even as they watched him over and over live out his definition of leadership to their amazement and horror. Servant of all. SERVANT of all. Servant of ALL.
Does your thinking about leadership include being a servant? How might that change how you lead or whom you follow? Who might you serve today?