Servant Leadership and Participation with Christ

Grateful for these servant leaders, Franklin and Maylou Cook. 


Luke 22:24   A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
Luke 22:28   “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; 29 and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


Luke records this dispute among the disciples at the last supper. Jesus had just modeled servant leadership by washing the disciples’ feet and yet, they wanted to talk about who would be the greatest among them. Through his actions and his words Jesus was trying to teach them something about leadership in the kingdom of God. A wise man once said, “The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord.” (Sir. 3:18) 

In the kingdom of God power is not found in position, but rather in participation. That is the invitation at the end of this passage. The disciples are invited into participation with Christ in his mission. Therefore, there should be no arguing about a place at the table, but rather when we are “in” Christ, we will be seated at the table “with” Christ. The entire conversation takes on new meaning when the view becomes God’s kingdom, rather than an earthly kingdom. The shift is subtle but real and Jesus is preparing the way for them to understand that he is ushering in a new kingdom and they will participate through life with him as servant leaders. 


Just like the disciples, there are moments when we find ourselves wanting affirmation and position. This can easily happen, whether in the secular world, or within the life of the church. Far too often we work hard, “for the Lord,” but we sure wish that someone would notice and give us the recognition that we deserve. Let me address this on two levels. First of all, if you’re in leadership, take the time to appreciate and reward those who work with you. Don’t think that you need the attention! Don’t belittle others to make yourself feel better. Instead, spend your energy on building others up and helping others to succeed. Serve others so that they can become the type of leader that we need in this world.

A number of years ago my husband and I worked for just such a leader. Dr. Franklin Cook was the Regional Director for the Church of the Nazarene in Eurasia. He taught us something about servant leadership, for his greatest joy seemed to be in watching others succeed. When one of his leaders gave a good presentation, he simply sat in the back of the room, his arms crossed and a simple smile on his face (eyes twinkling), and you knew that he was proud. You wanted him to be proud of you and you worked hard so that he would feel good about what you were doing. He constantly affirmed those under him and encouraged us to do our best. He provided opportunities for others to get the spot-light. He served, so that others could learn to lead. 

Second, learn to participate with Christ in this world. When we strike out on our own, we will find ourselves in trouble. However, if we learn to soak before the Lord, conversing with him day in and day out, you will get to know the very mind of Christ. When this becomes a reality, then your perspective on everything will begin to change. Christ increases as we decrease. Our joy is in Christ glorified as we simply serve. 

Servant leadership takes us to participation with Christ and his mission. It’s relaxing to find yourself in this place for you have nothing to prove to the world. All of your focus becomes Christ and this is a place of perfect peace. 


Lord, may I come to know you more every day and follow your model of servant leadership. Amen. 


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