Humble Service (Luke 9:46-50, 14:7-11, 22:24-30)
Jesus declares that leadership requires humble service to others, as we see in three additional passages. In the first (Luke 9:46-50), Jesus’ disciples begin arguing who will be the greatest. Jesus replies that the greatest is the one who welcomes a child in his name. “The least among all of you is the greatest.” Notice that the model is not the child, but the person who welcomes a child. Serving those whom everyone else considers not worth their time is what makes a leader great.
The second passage (Luke 14:7-11) is Jesus’ response to the social posturing he sees at a banquet. Not only is it a waste of time, Jesus says, it’s actually counterproductive. “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” As applied to leadership, this means that if you try to take credit for everything, people will want to stop following you, or get distracted from their work by trying to make you look bad. But if you give credit to others, people will want to follow you and that will lead to true recognition.
The third passage (Luke 22:24-30) returns to the question of who is the greatest among the disciples. This time Jesus makes himself the model of leadership through service. “I am among you as one who serves.” In all three stories, the concepts of service and humility are tied together. Effective leadership requires service — or is — service. Service requires acting as if you are less important than you think you are.