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. 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. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
From the moment you step onto campus on the first day of Jr. High, you are initiated into a model of leadership that derives its force from dominance, authority, and the effective uses of power and position. There are no shortages of people who presume to rule and this kind of establishment of the pecking order follows us throughout the rest of our lives. Jesus tells his disciples that he will have none of that. He tells them flatly, “this is not the way things are with you” (instead of “this should not be how it is among you”). In so doing, he’s not so much giving them instruction about how to behave as he is telling them the way things really are in the Kingdom toward which they’re heading. To choose anything other than serving others is to stand outside of the Kingdom of God.
Turns out the cardinal virtue of the Kingdom is not power or even freedom, but service. In light of the call to love one’s neighbor as oneself, service makes love tangible. Discipleship to Jesus involves the kind of voluntary surrender to the pretensions of self-importance or self-fulfillment. Instead, it is the radical call to consider the needs of the other above the desire of the self. Instead of viewing the world as a zero-sum game, such surrender becomes the means by which we out-do one another in showing love.
SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Submission
Today, consider how you might surrender your will in submission to another—particularly someone with whom you are in a position of authority (child, spouse, co-worker, etc.).
• Do not insist on having your way.
• Lead by listening to the thoughts and opinions of others.
• Find ways to elevate the needs of others.
• Lift up the contributions of co-workers.
• Let someone else choose the evening entertainment or dinner choice.