Friday, January 29, 2016

Being a Servant First

“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.  Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ (Mark 9:33-35 NIV)

A few years ago, a young man came up to me after our large group meeting and told me he was an experienced musician and could help our band sound a lot better.  He wanted to know how he could join the band.  It was his first time to attend any of our ministry events.  

I also remember a young woman with a great personality and who was committed to the Lord.  We put her in a position of leadership, but after a month or so, our staff noticed her lack of enthusiasm.  When approached, she expressed her disappointment in not having more control in shaping the direction of our ministry.  She wanted to be in control, not do the bidding of the staff.

Both of these stories are unique, but not that uncommon.  There are certain people who want to by-pass serving others in order to lead them.  To them, serving is a poor use of their gifts and not a good use of their time.  They are about doing bigger things and don’t want to waste their efforts on the small ones.

The twelve disciples were the chosen ones, but they were not content with that.  They were fighting among themselves for recognition as the one who was the greatest among them.  Like us, they were part of a hierarchal culture.  There were those who were recognized as leaders and the rest who were followers or servants.  Their goal was to be the former rather than the latter.  

Isn’t that the way most of us are?  While we may not want to be the leader of a company or a ministry, we do want to be seen in charge of something.  We are drawn to the attention and power that comes with it, even if it is small in the grand scheme of things.  

The desire to be in charge is not necessarily wrong, But that desire often overwhelms the need to serve, to the point we often want to skip it altogether because we think we’re too good to do it, or just not patient enough to wait for the bigger responsibilities to come to us.  But Jesus makes clear to His disciples, and to us, that even as leaders, we are to be servants.  Thus, one cannot be a godly leader without first knowing how to serve.  There is no skipping over it.  Serving is an integral part of leadership.

Today, if you have a strong desire to be a leader, then first apply yourself to being a servant.  Jesus says it is an essential quality of any leader.  

© Jim Musser 2016

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