Because this subject of servant leadership is so important, I want us to compare what we see in Scripture with what we see around us in the world and in the church. When we hear or read verses like Mark 9:33-35 and Luke 22:24, there is this alarm that goes off in our heads that says, ‘how could these men dare dispute over who is the greatest among them?’ Yet, if we are honest, there is a subtle struggle between our flesh and the Spirit that we are afraid to admit exists in ourselves. Part of our motives jostle for a position just a little higher than we have now because it gives us better recognition, status and perks. I am not confusing this with seeking to do excellent work and being rewarded for it by others. I am conscious in myself that there is a battle of unseen motives that strive for the top.
Jesus knew what was going on in the minds and hearts of his own disciples and he sets before them a supra-cultural, timeless principle that we all must allow to form our character and thinking. “And He sat down and called the twelve. And He said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35). Notice the steps in this short statement that reinforce the point:
· “And He sat down and called the twelve.” The importance of this point required that Jesus take time out from His ministry to teach His disciples. He drew them into this teachable moment by putting everything else aside. They had to come to One who was serving them.
· Jesus applied this principles to everyone by saying, “If anyone would be first”. There is no exception! That includes you and me!
· There is also no other way; “he must be last of all”. I find this extremely challenging and know that I have failed miserably in obeying Jesus’ instruction. But our failure does not give us a detour around the imperative. “I must be last of all”!
· It is one thing to take the last place at any occasion, it is another to “be…a servant of all.” This is what Jesus has done in coming into this world. As His representative, I have no choice but to do the same.
As challenging as this is, we must take on this attitude if we are going to be His witnesses and see the Holy Spirit work through us.
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