THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
SERVING GOD AND NOT MAMMON
November 7, 2009
Today’s reading from the gospel of Luke gives us some
points about servant leadership, which is so different from
leadership in the world. Worldly leaders often think in secular
and humanistic terms, and seek to be pleasing to human beings.
But God warns us: “You justify yourselves in the sight
of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human
esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk 16:15).
ways and thoughts are indeed so far away from our own (Is
55:8-9). What we esteem could be an abomination to God. Worldly
leaders seek power, position, perks and pay, which could all
lead us away from God, even as we endeavor to serve Him. Worldly
leaders, even as they serve God, could actually be serving
What is “mammon”? Mammon here is the Greek transliteration
of a Hebrew or Aramaic word that is usually explained as meaning
“that in which one trusts.” When we trust in our
human wisdom rather than God’s wisdom, when we look
to human esteem rather than God’s approval, when we
serve as lord over others rather than as a slave of Christ,
when we have our own personal agenda and priorities, then
we are serving mammon.
a posture could creep into our hearts without our knowing
it, or perhaps without our being fully aware of it. Thus we
need to always look to God for guidance and wisdom, humbly
seeking these as we serve. It is God who knows our hearts,
since He created us and is all-knowing.
warns us right off. “No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted
to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
(Lk 16:13). Those who are worldly leaders, even as they strive
to serve God, will ultimately have to make the choice.
But here is the interesting thing. While we do not serve mammon,
we can make mammon serve us. This is the point of Jesus’
parable of the dishonest steward.
this parable, Jesus is not approving of dishonesty, but rather
is commending the steward for his prudence, given that he
was about to lose his job. As steward, he followed the Palestinian
custom of adding a usurious commission for himself on business
transactions made on behalf of his master. Now he was foregoing
such commission. In letting go of his monetary interest, while
still protecting the interests of his master, he assured his
own future well-being.
Jesus says, “I tell you, make friends for yourselves
with dishonest wealth” (Lk 16:9a). As servant leaders,
we do make use of power, authority and position. We do enjoy
acclaim. We utilize money and modern means of communications,
such as the Internet. All these things of the world could
easily lead people astray. And so we need to guard our hearts,
and ensure that we are truly serving God rather than mammon.
we pass the test, then God can truly use us for His purposes.
If we remain faithful to God in our exercise of leadership,
then He can use us for greater things. “The person who
is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in
great ones” (Lk 16:10a).
What are the great matters God can entrust us with? It is
the salvation of souls. This has to do with our mission and
our work of evangelization. It is the very work of God. It
has to do with the very salvation won by Jesus on the cross.
This after all is the true work of the servant leader.
can entrust such work to us if we are found trustworthy with
small matters, that is, with money, worldly possessions, positions
of authority, power, and the like. If however we are found
untrustworthy with the worldly blessings that God provides
for us, then we will miss out on the privilege of bringing
Christ to others. “If, therefore, you are not trustworthy
with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?”
if found untrustworthy and thus unable to bring Christ to
others, we will miss out on what God wants ultimately to give
us, which is eternal life. If by our infidelities we fail
to become the instruments that God intends to use to bring
to others what God wants them to have, we endanger our own
salvation. “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs
to another, who will give you what is yours?” (Lk 16:12).
And so Jesus tells us, “I tell you, make friends for
yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you
will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Lk 16:9).
We can be sure that dishonest wealth, the world’s goods
and what is esteemed by the world, will fail us. But this
ought not be any cause for concern. What we simply do is to
utilize all worldly resources at our command to pursue the
will we be placed in right relationship with God, and make
many friends, the new brothers and sisters in Christ whom
we would have helped evangelize and pastor.
And when we finally leave this world, we are assured of welcome
into our eternal home.
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Servant Leadership (Part 11) [PDF]