Christian Leaders: Servants

Drill SeargentWhat do we look for in a leader? Strength. Uncompromising zeal. Putting others in their place and always winning fights. Scrappy, tough, resilient. Destroying competition.

Well…that’s often what the world looks for in a leader.

Jesus challenges and colors our understanding of leadership and greatness in His kingdom:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him 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.” (Matt. 20.25-28)

It’s not about lording it over others, getting them to do what we want. It’s not about exercising authority over others, always getting our way.

Setting the TableGodly leadership centers on serving others. In fact, Jesus used two words in our passage above—servant and slave—to express this thought. Servant in the Greek is diakonos, from which we get the word “deacon.” Slave in the Greek is the word doulos, from which derives the modern-day “doula,” one who assists during childbirth.

The diakonos was a minister of some sort; the word was often used of a waiter serving tables. Jesus used the verb form (diakoneō) of Himself: He “did not come to be served, but to serve.” Jesus was a deacon servant to us, going so far as to wash His disciples’ feet in John 13 and then offer His body as a crucified sacrifice!

How ought we, then, to serve one another?