“But Jesus called them over and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many.’” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Jesus made the statement above because 10 of the disciples got angry with James and John. They were indignant because James and John, via their mother, asked that one of them sit on Jesus’ left and one on the right in His kingdom. We would call this “jockeying for position.” They were looking to have the two dominant roles in the kingdom of God. The problem with that was that the other 10 disciples figured they would be one of the ones to have a dominant role in the kingdom. They were all influenced by the leadership styles of the world which were evident everywhere. So Jesus rebuked all of them and taught them the “Jesus leadership” style He expected of them.
The Jesus leadership style does not employ coercive power to force people to conform to the demands of the leader. Coercion is the world’s style. This does not mean there are no demands or expectations either by the leader or toward those being led. It means simply that coercion is ultimately ineffective. Real leaders lead rather than forcing.
The Jesus leadership style employs the concept of servanthood to lead. Those who are called to lead or who desire to lead must lead as a servant. When some folks hear this they think the word “doormat.” But that is not at all a servant style of leadership.
Consider the way Jesus led. He led as a servant. But was there ever any doubt among the disciples that He was the One in charge? Answer: No, there was never any doubt. Did He have clear expectations and demands of His disciples? Answer: Yes, He had huge expectations and demands. Jesus led by giving His life. Did He ever try to force the disciples to yield to His expectations and demands? No, He never did. He just invited them to follow and learn from His teachings and from His example.
Some in our world have called this a “weak” model of leadership, but here is the reality: There has never been a greater leader, a more influential leader, than Jesus Christ. The evidence is undeniable.
Lord, Help us to follow Your example of servant leadership. Amen.