(Part 71)


March 22, 2015

Today’s gospel:  John 12:20-33

A servant is one who follows his master. “Whoever serves me must follow me” (v.26a). That refers not just to obeying the master’s commands and going where the master is going, but also to imitating the master’s ways. If the master comes to serve and not to be served, so likewise the servant leader. If the master forgives the servant’s debt, so should this servant forgive the much lesser debts of another servant to him.

And if the Master embraces the cross, so too should the servant leader.

In being called to serve Jesus, we face two important truths. These truths are contrary to the mindset of the world. In the world we take in order to have; in Jesus we give in order to have. In the world we hold on to what we have; in Jesus we let go of what we have.

The first truth is that sacrificial self-giving is ultimately what produces good fruit. “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (v.24).

Concretely, what does this mean for a servant leader?

* We hold nothing back in our service to Christ, even our very lives.

* We are to embrace the cross of Christ, and rejoice in suffering for the cause of Christ.

* We are never to look to our own personal agenda, priorities or preferences, but only to the Master’s.

* We are to endure and persevere in our work for the Kingdom

The second truth is that letting go of one’s life is what ultimately leads to that life that is true and eternal. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” (v.25).

Concretely, what does this mean for a servant leader?

* We are called to self-denial and self-emptying.

*We are not to look to power, position or acclaim in our service as leaders.

* We are not to think highly of ourselves, but rather be humbled by our own shortcomings and weaknesses.

* We are never to be self-referential, and should do nothing out of selfishness or vainglory.

* We are always to keep our eyes fixed on the life that is to come, enabling us to endure hardships and injustice in this life.

Life in this world for our Master was not easy. It was full of pain and suffering. Life as a servant leader is also not easy, is certainly not one of ease, and can involve much pain. But again, as goes the Master, so goes the servant. We do want to cling to Jesus, and he gives us his assurance, “where I am, there also will my servant be.” (v.26b).

We look not to honors in this world. But there will be honor for the deserving servant leader. And it will come not from the world, not from our peers or subordinates, not from the Church, but from the Father Himself. “The Father will honor whoever serves me.” (v.26c).

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