Servant Leadership

Matthew 20:17-28
Jer 18: 18-20/ Ps 31:5-6,14-16

Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.
(Matthew 20:26)

When we serve for our salvation
Don’t raise your seat above the rest;
To be meek in our intention,
Is to be sure we serve Him best.

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of Him. “What is it you want?” He asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:17-28)

Reflection

Zebedee’s sons were so mesmerized by the powers of their Master that they had entertained visions of grandeur that awaited them as the leaders closest to the Lord. They failed to see that the kind of leadership Jesus taught was not the standard that the world recognizes as necessary to bring about success or profitability in the enterprise where it is employed. Because in most cases, the main motivation behind such kind of leadership is personal gain or reward, where power is emphasized as the main ingredient, exactly the opposite of what our Lord taught and demonstrated.

At the last supper, Jesus showed His apostles what he meant when He stooped down and washed their feet, a service usually performed by the most menial servant in the house. Our Lord did this to show them (and us) that His leaders must have a servant attitude, expressing authentic humility in serving others that would inspire them to become servant leaders themselves. Therefore, unlike the world’s standard, the primary motivation of true leadership is a strong desire to serve others. Victor Frankl, a prisoner and survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, observed that the prisoners who were most helpful to others were the ones who persevered, and sustained their strength and sanity till the end of their captivity. There is something about serving others that gives meaning to the saying that “the more you give, the more you will receive.” Men and women of power, prestige and status never reached their golden years of fulfillment like Mother Teresa or Pope John Paul II did in their lifetime. The only way people can be motivated, inspired and empowered to serve others and become true leaders themselves is by the example of their own leader’s character, integrity, dedication and humility. This was how Jesus transformed His disciples, and how they in turn converted others and influenced them to become future leaders of the Church themselves.

Lord, make me a servant of Your kingdom, because it is in seeking to serve You through others that I can be great in Your Father’s eyes. AMEN.

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