“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  -Mark 9:35 

By “sitting down,” Jesus assumed the traditional posture of a rabbi. He was about to share something important with His disciples.  

In His 3 1/2 year ministry, He repeatedly taught them that greatness in His economy and kingdom depended upon sacrificial love and service toward others. That similar statements of Jesus are recorded elsewhere in the gospels, indicates that this is an important teaching that He wants His disciples to understand and take to heart. Interestingly, Mark 9:35 falls right after His second prediction of His death and resurrection.  And this teaching is repeated in Mark 10:43 paralleled by Matthew 10:36. It is also interested to note that these verses fall right after Jesus’ third prediction of His death and resurrection. I don’t think this is a coincidence!

The Greek word translated servant is “diakonos”. It describes someone who serves willingly. From it we derive the term deacon.

Jesus modeled servanthood.  The creator of the universe, sustainer of all things, the one who is seated in the heavenly realms became a servant.  

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” -Philippians 2:6

His disciples don’t seem to understand. Instead of being consumed with thoughts of service, they argued over who is the greatest in the kingdom (Mark 9:34).  Even after Jesus teaches this principle to them, they turn their attention and concern back to power, position and authority (Mark 9:38).

I wonder if Jesus ever rubbed His forehead and shrugged His shoulders, saying under His breath, “what will it take for these knuckleheads to get it?”

They do eventually begin to understand the importance of love and service.  But only after He provides the ultimate example in His death on the cross. It’s interesting to note that history records most of the disciples later follow His path and die for their service and love in following Him.

What would happen if more leaders took the posture servanthood like Jesus? The world would certainly change.

Great leaders lead by example. Their posture is in loving service, stooping to wash the feet of the lowly, touching the undesirable, embracing the suffering, allowing their busy agendas to be interrupted by little children, or turning the other cheek to those who offend them. 

Great leaders are not as concerned with power, prestige or accolades. Their attention is drawn to the needs of the other person in the room; or perhaps the other person who has not even been invited in. 

Great leaders are defined by love and servanthood. 

You can command authority through charisma, giftedness, strength, force or coercion. But when these things fade, your position of power will be lost and you will be forgotten or tossed to the wolves. 

The leader who walks in love and service creates a movement. He or she will change lives and leave indelible impressions in the hearts and minds of their followers.

And their life and love will be contagious!

“The spirit of service is the passport to eminence in the Kingdom of God, for it is the spirit of the Master Who Himself became ‘servant of all’.” -Swete

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Mike Harder, President of Concentric

Jesus-centric disciplemaking movements