Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Servant Leader

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

Gideon said, "I will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you." - Judges 8:23

Jesus said, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant." - Mark 10:42-43

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 119:113-120; 2 Samuel 21; John 10:34-42

I'm grateful for some more words of grace over the last few days. It's been an overwhelmingly busy week. I feel like the "spinning plates" guy on the old TV shows. Some of the busyness is just the season; some is due to the work of trying to plan and make space for the ministry of the future while keeping up with the ministry of today; some comes from an office computer project that suddenly made a number of things urgent; some of it undoubtedly comes from my own failure to say "No" to things or find someone else who will do them. But as much as humanly possible, I believe all of the busyness does come as part of the work of being a servant leader.

In my head, the "servant leader" concept is something that's been important for a long time. There have been indications of it throughout the Old Testament (Gideon in today's verse, David most of the time, Isaiah's suffering servant songs). The message is consistently that God is ruler, not any human. People called to leadership roles can only really succeed when grounded in God's word and will, drawing strength from God's power. Jesus is the fulfillment of the servant leader way. His words in John 10 today remind me of the "Christ hymn" in Philippians 2:5-11: he was in the highest position with God, emptied himself and came into the world and humbled himself to the point of death on a cross, and was exalted again to the highest position. In Mark 10, he directly teaches his disciples this way: whoever wants to be a ruler must be a servant.

In my life as a follower of Jesus, and as a pastor in his church, servant leadership is also something that I've always aimed for. Just as God is the ruler vs. any human, God is also the point of the work of Christian leaders, not any human purpose. We are to serve others by pointing them to God, discipling them in the way of Jesus, teaching them how to love God and love others. This morning, I'm mindful of this in specific ways, as I meet for the first time with a new church group who I hope will also become servant leaders.

The good news and grace for me today is the realization that the role I play as a servant leader for Jesus is still entirely within his way of being a servant leader for me. As I try to serve, teach, and disciple others, Jesus is constantly and consistently serving, teaching, and discipling me! Yesterday's scriptures helped me to think about slowing down, moving at God's pace and not mine, aiming for God's direction and not mine, planting seeds and being patient in knowing that it's God who gives the growth. Today, I've received an even deeper gratitude for how these same principles are at work in my own life.

Thank you, God, for quietly and humbly serving, teaching, and discipling me. We've come a long way as we walk together, yet I still daily need your grace and guidance - and I always will! Keep calling me to watch and listen to your direction and your ways. Give me rest and peace, and then show me who to serve and how. Work in me and through me so that some of the seeds I plant may come to bear fruit of joy and peace and love in their lives, for your kingdom.

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