The Rule of Leadership

Mark 10: 32-45
Sirach 36:1,5-6,10-17 / Ps. 79: 8-9,11,13

Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.
(Mark 10:43)

Jesus showed us how we must serve
As the essence of true leadership;
By sacrifice we will deserve
The commission of God’s stewardship.

On their way to Jerusalem, Jesus began to tell the twelve what was to happen to Him, saying, ‘See, we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn him to death; they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, spit upon him, flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.’ James and John, sons of Zebedee, came forward to ask this favor from Him: ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right and one at your left, in your glory.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’ When the ten heard this, they were angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not to be so among you; whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (Mark 10:32-45)


Early on, Jesus had already told His disciples, “The first shall be the last” (Mk.10:31), but it seemed even His closest apostles were not listening, but were more concerned about their future position in His kingdom. He had shown them the value of sacrifice as the essence of love, even emphasizing His own impending passion and death, but it seemed as if His message was not getting across to them.

The message that Jesus was trying to impart to His disciples and to us is about the difference between the divine and the world’s perspective on leadership. In the eyes of the world, leadership means lording it over one’s followers or subordinates. But in the Christian point of view, leadership means servanthood, to be “the slave of all.” This distinction often blurs in the world of Philippine politics. We hear of politicians swearing to be a ‘servant of the people’, but their palatial homes, gas guzzling SUVs and junkets abroad belie their empty avowals. Even some members of the clergy and spiritual leaders of Charismatic movements may not be following the example set by our Lord when they indulge in expensive luxuries and material comforts. The Christian perspective may seem impractical and outmoded in today’s highly technological and materialistic society, but the words of Jesus will always remain the same for all eternity: to be first and greatest, we must be the last and the least. The way to glory can only be through genuine service in the example of Jesus Christ.

We seek to be Your leaders, Lord God, by serving others in our community. Grant that we may never be overcome by self-importance whenever we accomplish the mission You set out for us to do, remembering always that we are merely servants doing what is expected of us to do, all for Your glory. Amen.

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