PREPARE TO LISTEN. Be still for as long as you need, then pray: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
READ: Mark 10:41-45 ‘Not to be served’
41When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’
The other ten disciples were angry with James and John, not because they knew the brothers had gotten Jesus’ mission incorrect, but because they were unfairly vying for advantage in Jesus’ new kingdom, positions they too wanted. It’s not only James and John who needed to be corrected and taught again. They all did.
Jesus used a different symbol and different words to once again teach that his was the way of servanthood not positions of honor and power. It’s the same message we’ve already looked at in Mark—the greatest must be your servant; the first will be last. The fact that Jesus had to repeat it again and again should assure us today. We often get it wrong as well, more than once. We too vie for positions of honor and have voted for and blindly followed ‘rulers’ who ‘lord it over’ us; ‘great ones’ who become ‘tyrants’ over us. Indeed, some church leaders are among this group of tyrannizing ‘rulers’ and ‘great ones,’ defining leadership as domination, power and influence over others.
“But it is not so among you.” The true role of leader is the example of Jesus as he defined it in v45: “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” The term ‘ransom’ was the price paid to redeem a slave and set her/him at liberty. Leadership in the kingdom, in other words, is one that brings liberation not enslavement to others. It frees people from what oppresses them and keeps them on the periphery of power and influence. Leadership in God’s kingdom has little in common with our concepts and practices, even in the church today.
The test of true leadership in the Way of Jesus is whether it liberates or enslaves; empowers or disenfranchises. What kind of leader are you? Are people experiencing greater freedom because of my actions?
RESPOND TO JESUS IN PRAYER
Jesus, you have set a high standard—to serve rather than be served. Empower me today with your Spirit to live this way so that those with whom I spend my day may experience something of your freedom because of my behavior towards them. Amen.
GO AND LIVE IN OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST to serve and not to be served.