Servant Leadership

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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"But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant."

Matthew 20:26

When James and John tried to obtain positions of honor alongside Jesus in the kingdom of God, the other disciples became indignant. No doubt they also wanted the kind of glory and power James and John had sought.

Jesus used this sad but understandable display of jealous self-interest to instruct his disciples on the true nature of kingdom leadership. They had been thinking of leadership primarily in terms of having power over others. But in the kingdom of God, leadership takes on a radically different dimension. The leader isn't the exalted ruler so much as the servant. One who wishes to have first place in the kingdom must choose to act as a slave.

Jesus' vision of servant leadership must have shocked his disciples. It continues to unsettle followers of Jesus today, because we're apt to seek position and power rather than the way of humble service. To be sure, we often find ourselves in places where we must exercise authority, whether at work or at home, in church or in our community. But even and especially when we are in charge of people, we are called to be their servant. We treat them with respect, caring for their human needs and seeking what is best for them, as well as for the organization in which we are a leader. Servant leadership of this sort is as counter cultural today as it was in the time of Jesus. But it is our calling as Christians who seek to obey and imitate Jesus.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What do you think of servant leadership? Have you ever experienced this kind of leadership from one of your superiors? Do you seek to be a servant leader with those over whom you have authority? How?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I can certainly relate to James, John, and the rest of the disciples. I want to be a person of respect and honor. I like it when people look up to me. So, like your first followers, I am challenged by your vision of servant leadership. This sort of thing just doesn't come naturally to me.

Help me, Lord, to be a servant leader in the contexts of my life where I have been given authority. May I serve my family, my colleagues and subordinates, my students and those who look to me for guidance. Help me to seek the best for those in my charge, to care for them as people and to honor them. Teach me, dear Lord, to do what doesn't come easily to me. Help me to be like you! Amen.