THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
IGNOMINY AND GLORY
Today’s gospel: Mark 10:32-45
Authentic servant leadership is a package offered by Jesus
our Master, with two extremes. The passion and the glory.
The cup and the crown. The thorn and the throne. To miss out
on one or the other makes it difficult to function effectively
according to God’s designs or demands. To dislike or
evade suffering and look only to glory is to be disappointed
and discouraged when the pains come. To embrace the cross
but not have a vibrant hope in the glory that is to come is
to wear out and possibly serve without joy.
sinful flesh oftentimes seeks the good and not the “bad.”
That seems to be a natural preference. Jesus had just been
talking to the apostles about “what was going to happen
to him” (v.32c), that he would suffer greatly and be
put to death (v.33-34), when James and John asked to sit with
Jesus in his glory (v.37). They conveniently ignored the “bad”
that was soon to come and just looked to the good that would
happen after. Jesus straightened them out and brought them
back to reality. “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the
baptism with which I am baptized?” (v.38). The cross
would be part of the package!
other ten apostles heard this and they were indignant at James
and John (v.41). No, not because the two were so bold or presumptive.
It was because the two beat them to it (and there are only
two places at the right and left of Jesus!). They would have
wanted the same.
Jesus taught them about authentic servant leadership. Earthly
glory, lording it over, making one’s authority felt
(v.42)--these are all how the world looks on leadership. “But
it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be
great among you will be your servant” (v.43). The authentic
servant leader is the slave of all (v.44), comes not to be
served but to serve (v.45a), and sacrifices his life for the
redemption of others (v.45b).
glory will indeed be there, and to sit at Jesus’ right
or left is “for those for whom it has been prepared.”
(v.40). This has already been prepared. It is part of the
package. But first, there is the cup to be drunk.