A great deal has been written about the subject of “servant leadership.” Jesus said that His followers will not pattern themselves after the world’s forms of leadership, which too often involve domineering and the reliance on compulsion to get their way. Dictators rise to power because the world respects their ability to get things done, without questioning the leader’s methods. Successful executives climb the corporate ladder, they say, on the backs of others, and are applauded for their effectiveness.
In these verses, Jesus describes servant discipleship – not only in matters of leadership but every way in which we follow Christ, including taking time for children in His name. It’s true that these words shape Christian leadership, but we can also rejoice that they shape Christian parenting, Christian education, Christian fellowship, Christian charity, Christian worship and every other facet of following Christ.
We need this gentle instruction from our Lord and Master. Christ’s Twelve were not unusual when they speculated about greatness. Being great, being first, is the dream of every human heart. You see it in the struggles in marriage. It rears its ugly head among school children. Church workers far too often resemble the Twelve too. Whether our positions require us to lead or to follow, our Master wants us to serve. What is a great disciple? One who serves.
How can it be otherwise? Jesus came as “One who serves” (Luke 22:27). He served us by taking our place on the cross. What could be more humbling for the eternal Son of glory than to be unjustly wronged, and suffer for sins He didn’t commit? He who is our Leader and Master before everything else is also our Savior who served our need.
The joy of serving Jesus is the freedom you gain when you drop your own agenda and pay attention to His. The neighbor who uses his rent money for drugs and asks for a Christian’s help doesn’t get an automatic handout nor a cold refusal. What serves Jesus? How can we serve our neighbor for his eternal good, not just for the coming month? Serving is not easy. Servants are often blamed, misunderstood. But a true servant is diligent about serving his master. Our Master took “foolish” children in His arms and asks us to serve Him by serving them. Children of God, what is your Lord’s agenda for you?