Your Leadership Is Not Determined By How Many People
Serve You, But By How Many People You Serve.
Each one of us has been employed by others whom we have served. We were required to be a part of the objective and goals of their company or corporation. Our opinion was not solicited. Our needs were immaterial to those in charge. There was a daily expectation that we meet their demands for production, delivery or in other ways contribute to the success and benefit of those for whom we were working. Our very livelihood depended upon our submission to whatever they asked us to do. Many have felt like a cog in a wheel, looking at the paycheck as the only gratification of a job well done. This type of leadership in which we were used, or, at times, abused, is described in Mark 10:42. “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.’” He was describing, in that verse, the condition mentioned initially by Lorne Sanny in his comment as quoted. “Your leadership is not determined by how many people serve you.”
What was Jesus‘ definition of leadership? He continues with the following statements in 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.” As Lorne Sanny has phrased it: “Your leadership is determined by how many people you serve.”
We are all given opportunities to demonstrate leadership by serving others. This includes family relationships, communities, churches, our areas of employment, and in the case of some, national and international responsibilities. In each of these we must choose to serve others primarily rather than require them to serve us. Husbands must ask “How can I best serve my wife and my children?” Employers must choose to address the needs of each employee. “How can I best serve them to meet their physical and spiritual needs?” Those in positions of power and authority in national and international spheres must choose, not the choices that will advance their careers or obtain re-election, but rather the actions and legislation that will further the spiritual development and meet the physical needs of those whom they represent. What activities, then, may be required in such acts of service? We see these portrayed most accurately in the life of Christ. It is in His life that we see the God-man serve us. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be serve, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
On multiple occasions it was noted that our Lord was in prayer for those He came to serve. (Luke 6:12, Luke 22:32, John 17) As Jesus looked to His Father in prayers for us, we need to continually bring others before Him as well. This is the most critical act of service that we can offer to them. It is in remembering this, the most important way we serve, that we are reminded by our Lord to serve in other ways as well.
The Lord clearly indicated to us that He was the example for our lives in our service to others. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:13) We serve others, likewise, by being an example for their lives. We must be a model for others of what we want them to become. Other than prayer, this is the most powerful way in which we serve others. Paul saw the importance of this when he instructed Timothy in II Timothy 3:10-11. “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings-what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” Those we serve in our families, our church, and in our business will become like us, not from what we tell them ultimately, but from our example to them.
Leadership requires careful instruction, (Luke 10:1-12) as well as correction. (Mark 9:33-41) Both are needed if we are to be a leader who serves others. My first task after I joined the Air Force was at McConnell AFB in Wichita, Kansas. I was given a job as an aircraft electrical mechanic and sent to repair a gun switch on an F-86 aircraft. I discovered later that I had wired it backwards! I was given neither instruction nor correction! If we are to serve others by our leadership, we need to give clear instruction as well as follow up recommendations.
Jesus was an encourager! We see this in His interaction with Peter in John 1:42, assuring him of what he, through God’s grace, was to become. In John chapters thirteen through seventeen, the Lord gives continual encouragement to his disciples. If our leadership truly serves others, we must learn to encourage others. The world around us brings constant discouragement. Words of encouragement from others are rare. How many of us can remember the last time we heard a word of encouragement? Hebrews 3:13 tells us that words of encouragement should be given to others daily so that “None of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Proverbs 12:25 says that “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” As a leader, then, we must develop the habit of speaking words of encouragement to those we serve.
The last activity to which we will bring reference in regard to serving others is that of making our lives available to them. Jesus majored in making His life available to us. In Mark 3:14 it is stated that “He appointed twelve-designating them apostles-that they might be with him…” The Apostle John recalls the following in I John 1:1. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the word of life.” An absentee parent, employer or CEO cannot serve those whom he leads without being available to them. You will not be able to lead and serve those you do not know.
As we seek to serve others whom we are given opportunity to lead, we must keep our eyes on our Lord Jesus Christ. He is not a model which we are to emulate. He is a gift we are to receive. His Righteousness and Holiness are ours as a gift of His grace (I Corinthians 1:30) He is our life. (Colossians 3:4) As we look to Him to serve those whom we lead, we may rest assured that His work will continue in their lives for His glory.
In Christ, Richard Spann