“Jesus called [His disciples] together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 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.” (Mark 10:42-45)
How do we connect Jesus’ words on greatness with many of the current prescriptions on leadership today? For Jesus, greatness and being first means:
- Being a servant of those around
- Being a slave of all
- Giving our lives for others
Does this mean not leading, or not exercising authority, or not wanting positions of power? Is it about power or about the approach to power?
Clearly, Jesus led others. He taught. He rebuked those who needed it. He set His agenda for ministry (in concert with the Father). Jesus was a leader, but His way of leading and exercising power was, to cite someone else’s wording, ‘downwardly mobile’. He focused on His Father’s agenda. He was often interrupted by people while working toward another goal.
For Jesus, leadership was all about following the Father and His will, and laying down His life for others as a servant.
What about us in the church today? Do we emulate Jesus’ model today or do we look to other pathways toward greatness?