FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
IGNOMINY AND GLORY
May 25, 2016
Today’s gospel: Mark 10:32-45
Authentic servant leadership is a package offered by Jesus our Master, with two extremes. The passion and the glory. The cup and the crown. The thorn and the throne. To miss out on one or the other makes it difficult to function effectively according to God’s designs or demands. To dislike or evade suffering and look only to glory is to be disappointed and discouraged when the pains come. To embrace the cross but not have a vibrant hope in the glory that is to come is to wear out and possibly serve without joy.
Our sinful flesh oftentimes seeks the good and not the “bad.” That seems to be a natural preference. Jesus had just been talking to the apostles about “what was going to happen to him” (v.32c), that he would suffer greatly and be put to death (v.33-34), when James and John asked to sit with Jesus in his glory (v.37). They conveniently ignored the “bad” that was soon to come and just looked to the good that would happen after. Jesus straightened them out and brought them back to reality. “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (v.38). The cross would be part of the package!
The other ten apostles heard this and they were indignant at James and John (v.41). No, not because the two were so bold or presumptive. It was because the two beat them to it (and there are only two places at the right and left of Jesus!). They would have wanted the same.
So Jesus taught them about authentic servant leadership. Earthly glory, lording it over, making one’s authority felt (v.42)–these are all how the world looks on leadership. “But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant” (v.43). The authentic servant leader is the slave of all (v.44), comes not to be served but to serve (v.45a), and sacrifices his life for the redemption of others (v.45b).
The glory will indeed be there, and to sit at Jesus’ right or left is “for those for whom it has been prepared.” (v.40). This has already been prepared. It is part of the package. But first, there is the cup to be drunk.
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