Jesus isn’t enamored with our being a leader who serves. Jesus calls on us to be a servant or a slave. Primarily we are to focus on serving others and being a slave to Jesus. Jesus thinks it is not right for us to be called a leader (see Matthew 23 below). Being a servant is enough.
Jesus isn’t running a business and Jesus doesn’t want leaders or servant leaders. Our role is to obey God’s commandments and love. That is enough!
This came right after James and John had just asked Jesus to place them at His side when He assumed His throne in the kingdom to come. The other disciples became indignant at the arrogance of their request.
“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, the Messiah. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. | Matthew 23:8-12
God’s goal: I am to be a servant. I am to be a slave. Jesus is clear I am not to be called a leader. There is only one leader and that is Jesus.
Here is more along the same line of thinking from Jesus. This time He goes further and says I am to be a slave.
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” | Matthew 20:25-28
Jesus doesn’t talk about “servant leadership”. Jesus directs us to be a servants and a slave. That is it. We are not to be a leader who serves. We are to be a servant.
- When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Master—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. So if I, your Master and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you. “Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are happy [blessed] if you do them. | John 13:12-17
- 45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time? 46 Happy is that servant whom the master finds doing his job when he comes. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and starts to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 that servant’s master will come on a day he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. | Matthew 24:45-51
- “The man who had received one talent also approached and said, ‘Master, I know you. You’re a harsh man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “His master replied to him, ‘You evil, lazy servant! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and I would have received my money back with interest when I returned. “ ‘So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
- When they received their pay, they began to complain to the landowner: ‘These last men put in one hour, and you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day’s work and the burning heat.’ “He replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? Take what’s yours and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what is mine? Are you jealous because I’m generous?’ “So the last will be first, and the first last.” | Matthew 20:11-16
- Then Peter responded to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you. So what will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, in the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields because of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. | Matthew 19:27-30