THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
THE SUFFERING SERVANT
Today’s gospel: Mark 8:27-35
Jesus is the perfect servant leader. Peter was right in saying,
“You are the Messiah.” (v.29b). But Jesus also
taught them “that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the
scribes, and be killed” (v.31a). Jesus who is the Messiah,
who is Savior and Lord and King, who is divine Master, is
to be a suffering servant.
as most Christians including leaders do not understand servant
leadership, Peter also did not. “Then Peter took him
aside and began to rebuke him.” (v.32b). How can the
leader be the servant? How can the Lord be the one to suffer?
is the wisdom of God that is totally contrary and contradictory
to the wisdom of the world. As Jesus told Peter, “You
are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
(v.33d). And so Jesus “rebuked Peter” (v.33b).
But since the leader is indeed servant according to God’s
design, then to act otherwise is to act contrary to God’s
ways, and thus, end up acting according to the ways of the
evil one. And so Jesus also told Peter, “Get behind
me, Satan.” (v.33c).
we think and act according to the world’s ways of leadership,
not being servants but lords, then, even as we think we are
serving the Lord, we actually are in the enemy’s service.
Such leaders are often the cause of strife and disunity.
Jesus taught his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come
after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow
me.” (v.34). To deny self is to be a servant, to serve
others without counting the cost. To take up the cross is
to suffer for the cause of the Master. To follow Jesus to
be like the one who perfectly lived out servant leadership.
suffered and was killed, but in the end he would “rise
after three days.” (v.31b). The same fate, both suffering
and glory, awaits us. As Jesus himself tells us, “whoever
loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save
so Jesus continues to ask us every now and then, especially
those who aspire to be true disciples and dedicated servant
leaders, “But who do you say that I am?” (v.29a).
May we joyfully say, “You are the Messiah, the suffering
servant of God.”