Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Mark 10:42-45, where the Bible says,   

42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles domineer over them; and their people in high position exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you; rather, whoever wants to become prominent among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wants to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 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.”



There is no such thing as “generic” servant leadership. Or is there? Whenever I read this passage of Scripture, all the servant leadership programs in our world today immediately come to my mind. And it’s not just Christian colleges or businesses who espouse such things. Evidently, there’s an eastern and a western philosophical view of servant leadership. They both call for leaders to be empathetic, active listeners who serve their employees rather than just boss them around. Okay, I get it. It’s about empowering others so that they become they best they can be in whatever job or vocation they’re in. To me it sounds a lot like a brand of leadership which cherishes the people one gets to lead. But here’s the thing. If this is so simple and straightforward, why do we have so few examples of genuine servant leadership? The problem is not necessarily with the program or the principles; it’s the people, don’t you think? As leaders, we tend to be arrogant, vain, and self-serving, even when telling ourselves that we have everyone else’s best interests at heart. And when we are privileged to work for people who are willing do things for us that we don’t deserve, we tend not to be thankful. Instead, we grow to expect them, as if we deserved them all along. (Remember the story of the man sitting on his porch who gave a passerby $5.00 every day for a week? At the beginning of the second week, he gave no money which elicited the reply, “Hey, where’s my $5.00?”).

To overcome both our aversion to and natural suspicion of servant leadership, maybe we need examples of people who had real authority, power, and position, and yet used it for the betterment of others. I love the story about General George Washington who one day, dressed in civilian clothes, rode past a group of soldiers repairing a defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help. When the unrecognized Washington asked why he would not help, he retorted with great dignity, "Sir, I am a corporal!" The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. And when the job was done, he turned to the corporal and said, "Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again."[1]

In our text Jesus demonstrates genuine servant leadership, yet it seems so foreign to our world because sinful people are more comfortable domineering and exercising authority over others. As selfish people, when all is said and done, we tend to want other people to do what we want. To remedy all of this, we don’t merely need a better example than even someone like George Washington provides. We need a Savior who truly leaves His place of power and serves others who don’t deserve it so that they can be reconciled and redeemed to the God who alone makes life worth living, both now and forever. In today’s reading Jesus declares that he did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. When you fully comprehend that, then leadership in His kingdom isn’t just a strategy for economic or business success. It’s a way of life that will last forever. I think I’ll try to better understand the kind of servant leadership that flows from the person and work of Jesus, rather than those based on some generic philosophical principles, no matter how correct they might look on paper. How about you?

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give us an appreciation for all that You gave up so that we might be reconciled to God. Let that reality sink in and then guide us to serve others in Your name. AMEN.


[1] https://www.leadersbeacon.com/the-power-of-servant-leadership/

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