Jesus called them 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)
Jesus doesn’t get more radical than this. He’s overturning the whole leadership structure here, and using himself as the prime example. I like the way he uses the phrase “those who are regarded as rulers”, as if to say ‘they may look like leaders, but it ain’t actually so.’ As I go through life, following my instincts and what I’ve been taught, it seems like I often hear Jesus say, “Not so with you.” Full stop. Back it up, son. Because Jesus’ way is completely, radically opposite. Inside, don’t we all, secretly, kind of want to “become great” and “be first?” I think I have pridefully misread this to say that if I will just go through a short servant-phase, then I get to be “great”. I don’t think Jesus was trying to create servant-leaders. He is calling us to be servant-servants — to be a “slave of all” and stay in that role — otherwise we slip back into the “those who are regarded as” category. Jesus defined his leadership like this: “to serve and give his life as a ransom.” And this is not a cop show where they catch the kidnapper and get the ransom money back; Jesus died. And he calls us to kill off our powerful desire to “become great” and “be first” so people can know that only God is “great” and God comes “first.”
Lord, I need a lot of help to take this in, because to know your truth is to do it. I want to follow you whatever it costs, even when it seems like it will cost me everything. Help! Amen.