July 2018

“I did not come to be served, but to serve”
Mark 10:45 (NIV)

How amazingly counter-cultural our Lord is. Leadership is a major topic in workplaces. Just searching for leadership in a research database uncovers an overwhelming mass of millions of articles on this topic. In all these approaches to leadership I have not yet found anybody proposing that the best way to be a leader is to adopt a servant heart. How strident are the voices that call us to prestige, success, human respect, pleasure, power and influence, as Henri Nouwen mentioned in ‘The Road to Daybreak’? Like him, I wonder just how much I can put aside those whispers and desires and become deaf to such voices. During these Summer months, is it possible to take a holiday from them and become more attentive to our Lord’s voice as he calls us to imitate him, adopt a servant heart and take up the position as his slave?

It was a slow journey for the disciples as they followed Jesus and gradually also learned to imitate him and be servants. Yet, how perfectly Jesus provides for them. When 5,000 had been fed there were 12 lunch baskets (lunchboxes?) of leftovers, usually left as provision for the slaves, and now one for each disciple. Here in Mark 10 we read an incident that perhaps shows that the disciples were slow in taking on Jesus’ approach. Were they following the wrong examples, admiring the Roman rulers who loved the glory of position and authority? In God’s economy, in this new kingdom, things are upside down and radically reversed. Jesus challenges us to be less concerned with how others may see us – he warns against the “look at me” culture. 

If Jesus is our role model and Lord, then might we aspire to a greatness that is defined differently and also achieved in a very different way as “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-45, NASB)? As we become Christ’s slave and submit to his gentle yoke we find freedom. Might we also allow Jesus to change the way we look at the world, to shape us as he has shaped other contemplatives in action before us?