The Gospel Changes Everything (Pt. 9): Leadership

We're in a series where we're seeing how the gospel of Jesus affects every area of our lives. Each post will look at how the truth of the gospel changes how we view a certain aspect of life and its implications in our lives.

There is a story of two of Jesus' disciples (James and John) who get in a heated argument. Each of them wants to sit next to Jesus when he ushers in his kingdom. They want to sit to the right and left of Jesus' throne. They want to sit in the seats of honor, power, and leadership. When the other ten disciples hear that these two disciples asked Jesus for these spots, they were annoyed and resentful of James and John. 

James and John didn't get it. Leadership, power, and authority look different in Jesus' kingdom. Through the gospel, leadership is different. Although desiring leadership is a good thing, Jesus redefines what it is and how it looks. This is how he responds to them. 

Jesus called them over and said to them, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all." -Mark 10:42-44

Jesus says that leadership in his kingdom is going to look starkly different than leadership in the world. Others use their leadership, power, and authority to dominate others. But Jesus counters that by saying his followers will view and use leadership completely differently. They will lead by serving others. They will use their power to build up others. They will become great not through making people respect them but through seeing others' needs as more important than their own. 

Now when Jesus gives a command alone, we should listen, right? He is God. But it doesn't just stop there. Jesus doesn't only say I'm making a new rule here about leadership. In the very next verse he says, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life - a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45). 

So the reason that leadership is different among Jesus' followers is because our Lord and Savior first did this for us. He was and is the greatest leader, the King of kings, the Lord of every "lowercase L" lord in the world, the one who has ultimate authority and power. Yet he chose to come as a servant. He demonstrated to us that leadership in his kingdom is servant leadership, it's sacrificial leadership, it's life-denying leadership with the focus on the other. 

Jesus came not to be served by us, even though he deserves it. Jesus came not to dominate us with his power and authority, though he rightfully could have. Jesus came with the mission to serve humanity. The way he was going to accomplish that was through denying his own wants, needs, and rights by dying in our place in order to ransom us back from the slavery of sin and death. 

This is the gospel! This is why Christians view leadership differently. Not just because Jesus said it but also because he demonstrated it for our sake. So when we lead sacrificially as servant leaders, we demonstrate a Savior who first did this for us. When we use our power to bless others rather than ourselves, we embody the gospel of a Lord who first did this for us. 

"Christian leadership, like no other kind, with the posture of a servant aims to cultivate the world so others can flourish according to God's design." -Geiger and Peck. Leadership for Christians is others-focused because Jesus' leadership was that way. He led by dying, so that we could live.