A devotion on Servant Leadership from Bible App You Version (Theology of Work)
Jesus Teaches about Serving Others – Mark 10:35-45 NLT
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do us a favor.”
36 “What is your request?” he asked.
37 They replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”
39 “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering. 40 But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
Leaders Must Be Servants
In the book of Mark, chapter 10, we see James and John asking Jesus to share in his glory by sitting at his right and left hand. In such positions, they would receive both honor and exceptional authority. Jesus seized this teachable moment to reveal something radical about his style of leadership. He explained that Gentile leaders “lord it over their people” and “flaunt their authority.” But followers of Jesus must walk a different path.
“Whoever wants to be a leader among you,” Jesus said, “must be your servant.” The Greek original of this reads more literally, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” The word translated here as “servant” is diakonos (the word sometimes used to refer to a table waiter). A diakonos cared for the needs of others rather than his or her own needs. It denotes a person who serves in some subservient and humble role.
Jesus’s vision of leadership must have shocked his disciples. How can a leader also be a servant? This question continues to unsettle followers of Jesus today. All people tend to seek position and power rather than opportunities for humble service.
Servant leadership is as countercultural today as it was in the time of Jesus. Yet when we are in charge of people, we are called to be their servant. We must treat others with respect, care for their human needs and seek what is best for them, even as we seek the best for the organization in which we are a leader. Following Jesus’s leadership is not easy, but it is our calling as Christians who seek to obey and imitate Jesus.
When you hear the phrase “servant leadership,” what or who comes to mind? Have you ever experienced this kind of leadership from one of your leaders?
Dear Lord, I am challenged by your vision of servant leadership. This sort of thing doesn’t come naturally to me. Lord, transform my thinking and my attitudes. Help me to see the needs of my coworkers and reach out to care for them.
May I lift up those who are officially below me, seeking to honor them and acknowledge their contributions. Help me to exercise the authority given to me with humility, always seeing myself first and foremost as your servant, and therefore the servant of others. Amen.