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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Day 85: Mark 10:32-52 & Psalm 86 - What Makes for Great Leadership in the Kingdom of God?

Today's Reading: Mark 10:32-52 & Psalm 86

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What Makes for Great Leadership in the Kingdom of God?

"You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” - Mark 10:42-45, ESV

Why does it seem like we are so often not paying attention when God is trying to teach us the most important lessons? The disciples certainly had this problem. Jesus told them in Mark 10:33-34 about how He would be betrayed, unjustly condemned, beaten and killed. James and John missed the whole rejection and suffering lesson and instead asked Jesus if they could sit on His right and left hand sides in glory. Jesus' mind is on the coming cross and they are thinking about glory and positions of power for themselves.

So Jesus, ever the patient teacher, takes the opportunity of James and John's misguided request to teach the disciples about what makes for great leadership in His kingdom. The disciples obviously had not been paying attention to the way Jesus was serving the people - healing, blessing, teaching, casting out demons. They still thought of leadership in terms of position, power and prestige and not in terms of humility and service.

Jesus actually says that the first place among His followers would belong to the one who was a slave to all. For free Jews living under Roman occupation, the idea of voluntarily making themselves like slaves was horrible to consider. They wanted more freedom, not less, They wanted a higher position, not a lower one. 

But in leadership as in all of life, Jesus Himself must be our model. "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." We would have no hope, no life, and no salvation if Jesus had thought of position, power, and prestige instead of serving and meeting the needs of His people. Those of us called to leadership - in our homes, in our communities, in our workplaces or in the church - must have the same mindset as Christ and ask, "How can I serve?" instead of "How can I be served?" 

Prayer - Psalm 86:

Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
    save Your servant, who trusts in You—You are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
    for to You do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of Your servant,
    for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
    abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
    listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon You,
    for You answer me.

There is none like You among the gods, O Lord,
    nor are there any works like Yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
    and worship before You, O Lord,
    and shall glorify your name.
For You are great and do wondrous things;
    You alone are God.
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in Your truth;
    unite my heart to fear Your name.
I give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify Your name forever.
For great is Your steadfast love toward me;
    You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

O God, Satan and his minions have risen up against me;
    the world, my flesh and the devil seek my life.
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and be gracious to me;
    give Your strength to Your servant.
Show me a sign of Your favor,
    that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
    because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me. (ESV)

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