Jesus gathered them all together and said to them, ‘Those recognized as rulers of the people and those who are in top leadership positions rule oppressively over their subjects, but this is not the example you are to follow. You are to lead by a different model. If you want to be the greatest one, then live as one called to serve others. The path to promotion and prominence comes by having the heart of a bond-slave who serves everyone. For even the Son of Man did not come expecting to be served by everyone but to serve everyone, and to give His life as the ransom price in exchange for the salvation of many.’ Mark 10:42-25
Your local bookstore presents you with all kinds of self-help books that promise to make you ‘great’, ‘successful’ and ‘outstanding.’ But in these three verses, Jesus succinctly lets us know precisely what greatness is all about: serving others.
In the previous verses, James and John request privileged places of authority in seats at Jesus’ right and left. They recognize that glorification awaits Jesus. The authority He has exhibited in His ministry will lead to something big, perhaps to a royal rule, and they conspire to capitalize on that. However, they’ve missed key principles that He has been teaching His disciples along the way.
But they are not the only disciples enticed by visions of a triumphant reign, for the rest of the disciples are fuming over the request of James and John to be chosen for prominence. With His typical patience, Jesus corrects their attitude by referring to abusive rulers as negative examples, rulers who depend on coercion and control to maintain their power.
In absolute contrast, the Lord explains that greatness is measured by the ability to live as servants. Jesus’ final line — “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” — connects to his preceding words about service, indicating that His death will be exemplary for such a way of living. His death will exemplify the resistance that His teaching and ministry elicited from those who held power over society, and it will exemplify a radical renunciation of ‘privileged’ authority. And what makes this last statement so utterly radical is that the very Son of God is the One declaring it!
The word for ‘ransom’ indicates that his death does something; it secures a release. But that release is not simply to set free, but to set free for a purpose! We are set free from the grip of sin and selfishness in order to become like Him, the One who came to serve.
Serving others is a magnificent expression of several virtues, including humility, patience, gentleness and self-control. In fact, all of the fruits of the Spirit outlined in Galatians chapter 5 in one way or another are related to our interactions with others, how we treat them, how we ‘serve’ each other.
In the book, SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, by J. Oswald Sanders, we read, “True greatness, true leadership, is achieved not by reducing men to one’s service, but in giving oneself in selfless service to them.”
Key word – selfless. The great leader leads by becoming a servant of all.
A servant leader is not looking for status, position or prominence. A servant leader just looks for opportunities to serve. And we are ALL ‘leaders’ in some way or fashion – in your home, in your workplace, in your neighborhood, in your church, etc. because leadership is not measured by title or position, but by INFLUENCE.
Leadership is about directing or motivating others in the right direction. Leadership is not about dominating, but about ministering to the needs of others.
A leader for God is different than the crowd. Why? Because his heart is different.
What are the characteristics of a godly leader’s heart?
● Christ rules it.
● God’s Word transforms it.
● Integrity guides it.
● Trials reveal it.
In this serious hour of history, the Lord is looking for disciples with a different heart; a heart to INFLUENCE those around us by our example.
There is a saying attributed to Francis of Assisi that I have always liked: ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel; use words if necessary.”
In keeping with today’s RED words, let me re-phrase it this way: ‘Go into all the world and demonstrate Jesus; use words only when necessary.’