Every time I read the account of this conversation it is quite jarring. It’s not what you would expect from those who have been following Jesus for almost three years. Consider the scene. Jesus’ death is looming. He has just celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples where He told them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” He speaks of His body “given for you,” and of His blood “poured out for you.” Clearly, He is consumed with a passion for others. He longs to give His life away.
But then we are startled, for the next sentence is a shocker.
“Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” (Luke 22:24)
This juxtaposition is almost inconceivable. Jesus has just been speaking of sacrifice, of suffering, of service, of dying. And His disciples launch off into a big-headed discussion about which one of them was the greatest.
Talk about conceit, egoism, and self-seeking presumption.
Jesus will have none of it. Here’s how He rebukes His disciples’ desire for self-glory.
“Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27)
Oswald Chambers wrote, “The greatest curse in spiritual life is conceit.” Twisted pride in oneself always leads to a longing for self-elevation, to be noticed, to be esteemed, to be acknowledged, to achieve beyond others, to make the big splash.
Pride has traditionally been viewed as the first, worst and deadliest of the seven deadly sins. It is a temptation endemic to all humanity, but especially to leaders…people who are driven to achieve, to succeed, to influence, to control, to be the best in class, to leave a mark.
Here in Corpath, as Christian leaders, we are all about pursuing excellence in business, in life, in spirit. In Jesus’ thinking that excellence is impossible without a disposition to serve. If He was among us as “one who serves,” then as His followers we too must be among our families, our employees, our cohorts, our clients, our shareholders, our communities “as one who serves.”
The theme of leadership is prominent in the Bible, but the word “leader” is not. Instead, a different term is most commonly used to refer to godly leadership. The highest accolade for the Christian leader should be for Christ to view us the way God saw Moses. He did not say, “Look at Moses, my leader.” Instead, God says, “Moses, my servant.” (Numbers 12;1-8)
Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had encountered the spirit of egoism when two of His inner circle, James and John, asked for preeminent positions in His kingdom to come. When the ten other disciples heard this they were indignant. Jesus called them all together and unequivocally declared the Master’s Master Principle when He said, …whoever wants to be 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 a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45) The disposition of Jesus’ heart was to serve. In His view greatness only comes by way of servanthood. And for Him it was not first about acts of service; instead, it was “the spirit of servanthood” that mattered first.
This was the Master’s Master Principle of leadership. And it should be ours.
I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27)
Blessings for good days of servant leadership ahead.
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