“Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant … just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” — Matthew 20:26
Jesus makes it clear just before this verse that he is talking about leadership. He states, “you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them” – then he declares “not so with you.” Jesus is clear that he does not want leaders (rulers) to use their power over their followers. He doesn’t want them to lead by exercising authority over them. Instead, he wants leaders to earn the right to lead by serving.
What might he mean by this? Is he talking about becoming a powerless leader who just lets followers do as they like; a leader who is just a nice guy toward followers regardless of their performance? No – he is speaking of a mindset of leading that places the good of the led above the self-interest of the leader. He is not espousing a weak leadership but a powerful one that allows others to lead and seeks to develop them into their full potential as leaders.
Jesus here does not provide us with the easy path. He knows that leading is hard work and followers are not always easy to lead. However, he also knows that followers perform much better for leaders who put the followers ahead of the leader’s own personal interests.
Do you want to lead? Work to develop a servant mindset to lead as Jesus calls us.
Dr. Jim Laub, Coordinator of the Masters in Leadership program in the MacArthur School of Leadership at Palm Beach Atlantic University.