March 24, 2012

Mark 10:43-44 “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

This is a justly famous passage, but it is still not followed very often! The whole concept, and its difficulties, are easily seen with politicians. In English we often refer to them as “public servants,” probably on the basis of this passage, now that I think about it. However, a genuine servant attitude is rare indeed! We might shake our heads and wish for better when it comes to politics, but when it comes to the Church, the issue cannot be ignored, because it is essential to the character of what the Church is to be. Growing up in the family that I did, I rubbed elbows with “bigwigs” on a fairly frequent basis. Some were indeed servants, and some seemed like complete gas bags. Most were a combination, because no one is perfect. We are all too prone to believe what others say about us! That is seldom good, because most of the time what they say doesn’t agree with what God says about us. Christian humility is not self debasing, saying “I’m no good,” it says “I am whatever God says I am, and He is supreme.” It recognizes that God loves me incredibly, but He loves my neighbor just as much. We have such trouble believing God has enough love and grace to go around for everyone! Christian leadership desires to be a channel of that love and grace to others, whatever shape that takes. That is servant leadership indeed.

As a pastor, this is of course sharply applicable to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been especially ambitious in the area of leadership and authority, and indeed have drug my heels about it to a degree that hasn’t been helpful to me or to those whom I have led. However, I have also been jealous of my time, wanting to spend it how I wanted to, and that has not been beneficial. Since I am in a position of leadership, I need to fulfill it faithfully, with a servant heart. It has been a little disconcerting being the most senior member of the ministerial association (until fairly recently the oldest) and having everyone look to me for the deciding opinion on things. I can’t change Japanese culture, so I need to be doubly careful that I maintain a genuinely servant attitude. I desire to raise up the next generation of leaders, and I need to be a good example to them. That means both being very careful about the principle in this passage and not ducking responsibility. Everyone needs good examples, and there are far too few in the area of leadership.

Father, once again You’ve pointed out that I’m called to do something that is totally beyond my ability. Thank You. Thank You that I can indeed do all things through Christ. May I indeed serve You through serving Your children, expressing to them the love, grace, and patience You have poured out on me, so that together we may become and do all that You intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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