“‘Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.'”
I’ve grown up in enough Christian circles to hear the words “leader” and “servant” linked together almost inextricably. Yet on the brink of a new era in the politics of the United States of America, reading this verse today brought me to a halt.
Disclaimer – I do not involve myself in politics. Nor am I “for” a particular party or policy. I don’t care for debates and stay far away from political banter. I recently ended up leading a time of prayer for the elections based solely on the fact that (and I quote) I “don’t know anything about politics.” This post is not in any way a subliminal message or passive aggressive expectations for the future. It’s simply my thoughts as unpacked in the midst of change.
Elected officials can also be called public servants. The idea behind that title is, of course, the idea that they serve the purposes of the people who gave them the position which they hold. Delegated authority, in other words.
Jesus tells His disciples that to serve is to lead. He takes it a step further by saying devote yourself to others to the point of disregarding your own interests is how influence is earned in His kingdom. The context of the story is a seemingly trivial battle over position and thrones and places of honor. Although I’m far from an expert on Biblical history and culture, it seems that a promise of authority was something to be desired. Heck, a mom was asking on behalf of her grown sons. Red flags all around.
The two transcendent moments of leadership in all of history were – and will always be – the cradle and the cross. From heaven’s throne room to a farmyard stable. From the promise of political power to a criminal’s death. “Disregarding your own interests” indeed.
I don’t really have a point to make in writing these words. In revisiting these shockingly contrary statements of truth, I’m in awe once again at the example and life of Jesus. In the same breath, I’m desperate for Him in my life, because power and prestige seem a lot easier to handle then humility and disregard. I may find myself looking at appointed leaders and criticizing their lack of servant leadership. All it takes is one glance in the mirror to realize that we may be more alike then I first thought.