THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
WORKERS IN THE VINEYARD
Today’s gospel: Matthew 20:1-16
Today’s parable stresses the reality that those who
turn to faith in Jesus, at whatever point in their lives,
would merit the same eternal life in heaven. But we can also
look to this parable to teach us about servant leadership.
is the essence of servant leadership: “Thus, the last
will be first, and the first will be last.” (v.16).
The last (the servant) will be the first (the leader), and
vice versa. The servant is at the lowest level, has no authority,
and is just to be ordered around. The leader is at the highest
level, has the authority, and does the ordering. For the authentic
servant leader, it is living out both. But more importantly,
the servant leader, like Jesus, is not to be served but is
makes the work of His Kingdom dependent on servant-workers.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went
out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.” (v.1).
The earth (the land) is the Lord’s, but unfortunately
is under the dominion of the evil one, and will have to be
recovered for God. To do so, God makes use of human instruments.
He needs workers for the harvest.
true workers are what are lacking.
are many Christians who do not know about and and thus do
not participate in the work of the Kingdom, especially the
work of evangelization and mission. They are just “standing
idle in the marketplace” (v.3b). Indeed, they might
even be part of the problem.
are other Christians who are not proactive, who do not go
forth on their own initiative, who are unmindful of the
call to lay empowerment. They are looking to be taught what
to do. They are idle, giving the reason: “because
no one has hired us.” (v.7a).
are those who dictate on the Master how the work is to be
done. They begin to look to themselves as the owner of resources
made available for their work. They think they know better
than God. But the Spirit blows as He wills. “Am I
not free to do as I wish with my own money?” (v.15a).
are those who are envious and resentful of their fellow
workers, who seem to be getting ahead of them in recognition
or reward. To those who worked longer but received the same
pay as others, the Master says, “Are you envious because
I am generous?” (v.15b).
There are those who do not recognize the great privilege
that it is to serve God, who are not grateful for whatever
blessings have been received, as “on receiving it
they grumbled against the landowner” (v.11). They
think God owes them for their work, and if unsatisfied with
what they get from God, they take it against Him.
There are those who serve God but are basically out for
themselves for personal benefit. It might be for power,
for position, for perks. They might have their own agenda,
and follow their own priorities. They are like the first
laborers to be sent, who “thought that they would
receive more” (v.10a)
Authentic servant leaders must know the God whom they serve.
is merciful. God wants His people to experience salvation.
As such, He sends out laborers to the vineyard. “You
too go into my vineyard” (v.4a).
He is just. God rewards His workers. He assures them, “and
I will give you what is just.” (v.4b). God will never
be outdone in generosity. He is never unjust. “My
friend, I am not cheating you.” (v.13a).
He gives us the privilege to embrace His cross, as workers
“who bore the day’s burden and the heat.”
(v.12b). Servant leaders are those who follow in the footsteps
of their Master, who endured much for our sake.
God is constantly calling on workers for the vineyard, from
dawn, to nine o’clock, to noon, to three o’clock,
to five o’clock. There is no reason for His people not
to hear His call. They are given every opportunity to respond.
is it fair for those who work longer but receive the same
wage? Is it fair to those who accept Jesus earlier in their
lives when those who have a deathbed conversion are assured
the same reward in heaven? It is more than fair. Servant leaders
who toil longer and harder and endure so much more pain and
suffering must recognize how these are blessings.
They have actually been favored by God, in allowing them to
become more like Christ.
what are you waiting for? There is much work to be done. “Why
do you stand here idle all day?” (v.6b).