As an alumnus of Dallas Baptist University, “servant leadership” was a phrase I heard from 2002 to 2006. In fact, I believe we even had an entire class devoted to it. Further, we had a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet on campus, and even our welcome activities as freshmen involved seniors washing our feet (apologies for whoever had to wash mine). Whether or not you tried, servant leadership became a part of your DNA by merely being a DBU Patriot.
And not without reason.
In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus teaches a powerful lesson to His disciples –– and us. Shortly after James and John ask Jesus to allow them “to sit at your right and at your left in your glory” (Mark 10:37), Jesus essentially says, “Y’all are clueless.”
He asks, “Are you able to drink the cup I drink or to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” They say the can, but I can’t help but picture the facepalm emoji, but with a long-haired, bearded man.
The other disciples are beside themselves as Jesus brings all of them together to teach the lesson:
“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. But it is not so among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave to 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.”
We’ve all likely had that overbearing boss. I even had a pastor when I was a student pastor that proudly proclaimed in a staff meeting, “I’m the pastor, these people (our members) are just sheep; y’all (the staff) are just my helpers. People need to get on board or take the next exit.” It’s hard to get on board with an overbearing boss or pastor.
And yet, those of us in positions of leadership should remember the model Jesus sets in Mark 10:42-45. We don’t need to lord our position over others or lead as dictators. We need to follow the example of Jesus and lead with humility, with service, and with sacrifice.
As John C. Maxwell says, “True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader.” No matter how many people are in our care or under our leadership, our goal is to build them up, move them forward, and guide them into the future.
I’ll leave you with the call we have in Acts 20:35 “to help the weak by laboring like this and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, because he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
As we aim to lead like Jesus, let’s remember, He came to serve and sacrifice.