But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.” Matthew 20:25-26 (NLT)
Jesus’ description of leadership doesn’t fit the cultural idea of many CEO’s today, does it? While rare, there are CEO’s who have come up through the ranks and understand the difference of servant leadership. Instead of using people, Jesus said we are to serve them. He not only set the principle of servant leadership but He gave us a living example of it in the life He lived and the death He died for you and me. In fact, in this passage where He teaches the disciples what leadership in the Kingdom of God looks like, He set the pattern by saying,
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28 (NLT)
Jesus’ very mission in life was to serve others and to give His life away! Serving and giving are indispensable qualities distinctive of Kingdom CEO’s.
How are you doing in your leadership? We are all leaders to the extent that we have influence on others. How are you using your influence to serve others? Kingdom CEO’s have servants’ hearts. The Life Application Bible makes a good point about this verse.
“Servant leaders appreciate others’ worth and realize that they’re not above any job. If you see something that needs to be done, don’t wait to be asked. Take the initiative and do it like a faithful servant.”
Kingdom CEO’s make willing sacrifices for others. Rather than demanding their own rights, they yield those rights for the benefit of others. Jesus said that He did not come to be served! That’s huge when you consider who Jesus is – God! Talk about the Ultimate CEO!
But, Jesus didn’t stop there with His description of servant leadership; He went further. He said He came not only to serve but to give His life as a ransom for many. The word there for ransom would have been understood by His disciples as the price paid to release a common slave from bondage. Jesus had already told His disciples, three times, that He must die; next, He told them why – to ransom or redeem all people from the slavery of sin and the bondage of death and set them free!
This teaching on servant leadership followed an argument among the disciples about who would get the best position in the Kingdom of God. Like the disciples, it is easy for us to think of God’s Kingdom from our worldly point of view and compete for position and power. It happens in churches today as well as in corporations. When rebuking the religious leaders of His day, Jesus said,
The greatest among you must be a servant. Matthew 23:11 (NLT)
It’s part of our culture and selfish ambition to be self-serving and self-promoting. The values of the Kingdom are radically counter-cultural though! The call to discipleship is a call to deny ourselves and to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. (See Luke 9:23.) That’s only possible when the One who came to serve and to give His life for us indwells our hearts. He changes our values from the inside out and gives us a servant’s heart.