By Robert Halsey Pine
“So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become 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 a ransom for many.’” (Mark 10:32-45 NRSV).
Before we can become a servant-leader and slave of all, we must join with God and be filled with his Spirit. St. Paul likened our joining with God to a wild shoot grafted onto a tree where a branch had been broken off (Romans 11:17 NRSV).
While the shoot would share the rich root of the tree, it should not boast over the branches. Paul says, “They [the branches] were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you.”
Paul goes on to say, “And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”
What a great metaphor of the forgiveness of God. The branches that have been broken off because of unbelief are grafted back onto the tree when they turn back to God.
This is humbling, and as Christian leaders, we should act in this humility.
The disciples James and John pleaded with Jesus to have a place at His right hand and left hand respectively when He came into his glory. When the other 10 disciples heard this, they became angry with the two.
At this point Jesus said to them, “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” There is just no way around it. Jesus tells us that He came to serve, not to be served. And He made the ultimate sacrifice for us by giving up His life dying on a cross for a new life for us.
Not everyone is meant to be a ruler in the natural world; however, we are all called to be Christian leaders in the body of Christ. And as Christian leaders, we must get used to servanthood and being a slave of all. It is there that our heart and mind and spirit are one with Him. Thanks be to God.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.