THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
TAKING THE LOWEST PLACE
Today’s gospel: Luke 14:1-14
All who serve in the Church are servants of Christ. Some of
them will be called to be leaders. But the leader is the servant.
Thus we speak about being a “servant leader.”
This is not an easy role to live out.
with their fallen human nature, even as they are serving Christ,
can tend to be secular in their thinking. Thus they still
think about position and power as leaders. It is like the
invited guests who “were choosing the places of honor
at the table.” (v.7). The closer to the host, the more
prominent and so the better.
told them to resist such posturing. “When you are invited
by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in
the place of honor.” (v.8a). Jesus said that a more
distinguished guest might arrive and the host will ask you
to vacate your place to make room for him, thus really embarrassing
you (v.8b-9). And since other places would already be occupied,
you would then proceed “to take the lowest place.”
(v.9b). The lesson for us: Do not think too highly
of yourself. And even if you were actually the most important
person around, still, do not decide your place of prominence
when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that
when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move
up to a higher position.’” (v.10a). The lesson
for us: As Jesus has already invited us to be with him
and to serve him as a leader, we take the posture of a true
servant leader, recognizing our nothingness apart from his
grace, and so the position we accept is as a servant or slave,
the lowest place. We leave it up to Jesus to honor us as we
do well in his service. “Then you will enjoy the esteem
of your companions at the table.” (v.10b).
final lesson: “For everyone who exalts himself
will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(v.11). The one who takes the lowest place as a servant is
the one who is raised to a position of prominence as a leader.
The former act is ours, the latter act is the Lord’s.
We must never exalt ourselves, as that is pride and folly.
We leave it to our Master to do that, if that is what he desires