LEADER VERSUS SERVANT

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP

(Part 103)

LEADER VERSUS SERVANT

February 24, 2016

Today’s gospel:  Matthew 20:17-28

Jesus the Master had just told his disciples that “the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified” (v.18-19a). But when the mother of the sons of Zebedee asked Jesus for places of honor in his kingdom (v.20-21), and he said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (v.22a), amazingly they answered, “We can.” (v.22b). Well, indeed they did not know what they were asking for, or rather, they misunderstood what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus.

We too misunderstand. We too have our own idea of what it means to serve Jesus. So Jesus clarifies it for us. First, to serve him is to suffer with him. “My cup you will indeed drink” (v.23a). He is the suffering servant, and so too will we be. Second, he does not call us to serve in positions of prominence or power. He said, “but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give” (v.23b). He gives no false illusions or hopes. The call is to servanthood and not to lordship. Third, there will indeed be places of glory in the kingdom of God for His faithful servants. Jesus says that this “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (v.23c). There will be difficulties and pain in this world, but there will be rewards and eternal glory in heaven.

The differences in the oxymoron that is a “servant leader” are as follows:

Leader

Servant

verse

Lords it over others and makes his authority felt

Gives his life as a ransom for many

v.25, 28b

Wishes to be great

Is a servant (takes the lowest place)

v.26

Wishes to be first

Is a slave (takes the last place)

v.27

Comes to be served

Comes to serve

v.28a

Looks to sit with Jesus in prominence in the here and now

Will sit with Jesus in glory in the hereafter

v.21b, 23b

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