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Who do you know today that wants to be a servant to or for anyone, and most of all, who wants to be a slave?  If you were offered the top leadership position in your church are in your business organization, but before you could move into that position you would first have to become a servant and in order to hold the number one position you would have to become a slave.  What would you say to the offer?

Jesus made such an offer to two people who would themselves become great leaders.  Jesus was known as the World’s Greatest Leader, and He taught and modeled a powerful leadership philosophy that in his day it was a novel—and confusing—approach.  Today numerous leadership theorists, some of whom don’t even associate it with Jesus, are analyzing, probing and promoting this approach, and we too can learn an offer lot from Jesus core leadership philosophy which is spelled out here in Matthew 20:20-28.  Now read and observe carefully Jesus’ teaching here on this subject matter.

“It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.”

“What do you want?” Jesus asked.

She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”

Jesus responded, “You have no idea what you’re asking.” And he said to James and John, “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?”

They said, “Sure, why not?”

Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. My Father is taking care of that.”

When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”  (Matthew 20:20-28 MSG)


Leadership (Photo credit: glennharper)

Now here is what we want you to understand about this message of Jesus core leadership position.  He was addressing the highest profile leaders the church would ever have.  These men would lead the church before there were any written instructions about how it should operate.  These were Jesus’ closest allies and were the only ones who fully understood how things were supposed to work.  Jesus would soon commission these men to spread his church through the whole world.  There would be teachings, new people, confusion, controversy, change—this assignment entailed all the things that go along with such an enormous undertaking.  These leaders would need enormous power and influence.  How should they proceed?

Look what he told them in the last paragraph above, “He said that the highly visible uses of power around them, namely “lording it over” were not options.  How, then were they to get people to do what needed to get done?  Jesus said, essentially, “To be great, be a servant; to be first, be a slave.”  “First” is higher than “great” and “slave” is more servile than “servant.”  Think about it!

Anticipating their confusion about whether this approach would work actually, most hearers would be quite convinced that it wouldn’t work; Jesus gave a simple and solid closing argument.  To those with whom he had lived and worked he concluded that they should serve “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Today countless pages of articles and journals report on countless hours of empirical research and careful thinking about what makes leadership work.  Increasingly, as data are produced and analyzed, experts compile theories that affirm and explain what Jesus taught:  “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”  Jesus taught it, and then he went out and lived it.

We encourage you to change your thinking, and as you talk the talk, and learn to walk the walk.  Think globally and work locally to become a true godly leader.  I ministered this message today to you from a position of peace, purpose, power and prosperity.  I remain your brother in Christ, Pastor Davis/Master Teacher!

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  1. Thanks for the link and the message.

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