What Does it Take to Be a Great Leader?

In Mark 9: 30-35, we read that Jesus and His 12 left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

I think it makes sense that they were arguing about who was greater among them, for: Peter, James, and John were the only 3 who Jesus took up on the mountain, while the other 9 were left below. They were also the only 3 who Jesus took into Jarius’ house. Then there was John, who always laid his head on Jesus’ chest, and to Simon Peter, whom Jesus said, “upon you, I will build My Church.”

People today do this, too:
Simon Peter is said to be “The first Pope” of the Catholic Church. Yet scripture talks of both Peter and James (Jesus’ half-brother) as being the “leaders” of the Jerusalem church. Scripture also talks of Peter being somewhat afraid of James, as James was mostly against the Gentiles as Christians, and focused still so much on following the Law (something that Paul wrote against doing, even among Jewish Christians). Many churches today also lift their Pastors up so high, possibly even above Jesus’ 12. Some Pastors / Leaders even raise themselves up for the sake of their titles/credentials. But in all cases, Jesus said that by your service to others (in His Name), one becomes great.

I once read that the ways of Satan are to be above all others. Fight your way to the top and only the strong shall prevail. It’s very conquer-oriented. The strongest will win and earn their respect from others – lots of backstabbing, pride, selfishness, self-centeredness and pursuit of power. But God’s ways are opposite of Satan’s. God’s ways say that if you want to be the greatest, you must be the least. If you want to lead, you must serve. Accept and genuinely care for the outcasts, the weak, the losers and you’ll be blessed. God’s ways are selfless, Christ-centered, humble-oriented, charity-driven and love-based. Jesus set a good example of this in John’s gospel when He washed their feet.

Another good example is somebody who’d come to be known as “Mother Theresa”. She had no concerns for power, status, “sainthood”, title, pride or even self. Her concerns were for the widows, the orphans and the outcasts. Her selfless and Christ-centered service in Jesus’ name was what earned her the title, “Mother”. A simple, young Nun (sister), who cared enough for others to put them and their needs away before her own, with no intentions of becoming the most honored and respected role model this world has known in her lifetime (and even afterwards).

  • Service in Christ’s name
  • Genuine love and concern for others in Jesus’ name
  • What you’ve done for these, you’ve done for Jesus
  • When you did these things for Jesus, you accepted the Father.

So instead of arguing about who the greatest was, they should have been arguing about whom among them was the least.

  • He who strives for power, not service, is the least in God’s eyes.
  • He who serves out of love and in Christ’s Name, is the greatest in God’s eyes.
    • Not the ways of Satan
    • Not the ways of the world
    • But God’s ways, and again, the importance of focusing on Christ.

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