‘The servant-leader… … begins with the natural feeling that one wants to… serve first.‘ (R. K. Greenleaf)
When the mother of Zebedee’s sons went to ask Jesus if He would let her sons sit either side of Him when He was in His Kingdom, Jesus said to her that it was not for Him to grant that request. All she wanted was for her sons to be at the top, seen as the ‘best of the best’. We all want the best for our children, but only God can give them that, He has a plan for all of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). ‘Best of the best‘ is normally a phrase used when people are talking about someone is at the ‘top of their game‘.
Jesus did not want to be thought of as ‘the best‘. He was not concerned about what people thought about Him, for Him, it was all about God; He knew who He was, He said ‘I am the bread of life‘ (John 6:35 & 48 NIV). Not only did He say that, later He used another phrase to inform the people around Him, how important He was to the world, ‘I am the light of the world‘ (John 8:12 & 9:5 NIV); yet following this, He was serving by washing the disciples feet (John 13). People do not necessarily need to shout-out about who they are and what they are doing. A famous servant-leader is quoted as saying ‘Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love‘ (Mother Teresa).
Do we do things for love, or for the adulation of others?
Jesus gave a famous command to every-one, and He said ‘A new command I give to you; Love one another‘ (John 13:34 NIV). Jesus was not only a servant-leader, but he came here to serve us in an amazing way, with love, He did something that He knew we could never do, ‘He came to pay a debt He did not owe; [for] I owed a debt I could not pay.’ (Ellis J Crum). Jesus served us the best way He could, ‘Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life‘ (John 15:13 NIV), and He loved to the utmost.
Are we servants / servant-leaders, do we serve in love, or for love of others?
Leadership is a position that some people want and aspire to, but God knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11), He knows everything about us, the Psalmist David knew this (Psalm 139), he also knew that God would guide us (Psalm 32:8 NIV).
Some people may not be pleased with God’s plan for them, Moses was one of these. Although he answered God when he was spoken to, but when told what to do, he said, ‘Who am I, that I should go‘ (Exodus 3:11 NIV). God tried to persuade Moses that with His help he could do it, but Moses continued to argue, God became angry, but in the end, God decided that Moses would lead, but Aaron would speak for Him, (Exodus 4:14).
Jeremiah also was not happy about being called, he said that he was too young and did not know how to speak out, (Jeremiah 1:6).
Samuel however was ready to serve in any way necessary, for when God spoke to him, he replied, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening‘ (1 Samuel 3:10 NIV).
Are we ready to lead and / or serve?
From heav’n you came helpless babe, entered our world, your glory veiled; not to be served but to serve, and give your life that we might live.
This is our God, the Servant King, he calls us now to follow him, to bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King
So let us learn how to serve, and in our lives enthrone him; each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving.
From Heaven You Came (The Servant King)
Lord we thank you for showing us through your Son that leading and serving are both possible, and that they should be embraced to bring glory to your name. Hel us to be ready to serve those that others may not want to, help us to serve those that most need it, help us to discern your plan for our lives that we may show your love and your light everywhere we go.
Father we thank you for your great love for us, help us to show that love to others around us in our daily lives, help us to be beacons of your light to a dark and broken world; it is so important for us that we live our lives according to your will, but Lord we are human and frail, so we need your help constantly, be patient with us we pray.