During His ministry with His disciples, Jesus repeatedly experienced moments when He probably felt exasperated by the envy for power they seemed to have. The apostles appeared to be anxious to become powerful leaders of Jesus’ kingdom (Mark 9:33-34; Luke 9:46). Even as the disciples were eating the Last Supper together, these feelings of domination and supremacy were palpably felt among them (Luke 22:24).
During one such occasion, Jesus clearly expressed His thoughts regarding spiritual leadership among His people. What principles of leadership do we learn from Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew 20:25-28? How can we manifest this principle in our lives and especially in our churches?
“In this concise passage Jesus presents us with two models of authority. The first is the Roman idea of authority. In this model, the elite stand hierarchically over others. They have the power to make decisions and expect submission from those below them. Jesus clearly rejected this model of authority when He stated, ‘Not so with you!’ Instead He presented the disciples with a breathtakingly new model of authority, a thorough rejection, or reversal, of the hierarchical model with which they were familiar.” – Darius Jankiewicz, “Serving Like Jesus: Authority in God’s Church”, Adventist Review, March 13, 2014, p. 18.
The concept of authority that Jesus presents in this story is based on two key words: servant (diakonos) and slave (doulos). In some translations the first word, servant, is often translated “minister”, and the second, “servant” or “bondservant.” Both words thus lose much of the force of Jesus’ intent. Although Jesus did not wish to abolish all authority structures, what He wished to emphasize is that church leaders must first of all be servants and slaves of God’s people. Their positions are not to exercise authority over people or to dominate them or to give themselves prestige and reputation. “Christ was establishing a kingdom on different principles. He called men, not to authority, but to service, the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak. Power, position, talent, education, placed their possessor under the greater obligation to serve his fellows.” – Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 550.
|Read John 13:1-20. What example of leadership did Jesus give His disciples? What is Jesus still trying to teach us in this passage? How can we manifest the principle here in all our actions with others, in and out of the church?|