Summary: Jesus' leadership style is very much at variance with that of the World - and often too the Church
Who wants to be the greatest in the Kingdom
Story: D.L. Moody was the Billy Graham of the 19th Century.
He was a man used by God to bring millions to faith in Jesus
At the end of the 19th Century, a large group of European pastors came to one of D. L. Moody’s Northfield Bible Conferences in Massachusetts.
As was the European custom of the time, each guest put his shoes outside his room to be cleaned by the hall servants overnight.
But of course this was America and there were no hall servants.
Walking the dormitory halls that night, Moody saw the shoes and decided that he did not want to embarrass his brothers.
He mentioned the problem to some of his students who were there, but Moody was met only by silence or pious excuses.
He returned to the dormitory halls and gathered up the shoes.
Alone in his room, he began to clean and polish the shoes of his Christian brothers.
We only know about this episode because a friend of Moody’s popped in to see Moody unexpectedly and found him at work.
When the visitors opened their doors the next morning, they found their shoes clean and shiny.
But they never knew who cleaned them. Moody told no one, but his friend told a few of Moody’ students and during the rest of the conference, different men volunteered to shine the shoes in secret.
Perhaps this episode shows why God used D. L. Moody as He did. He was a man with a servant’s heart, and that was the basis of his true greatness.
Our Gospel reading is all about LEADERSHIP
True Christian leadership.
Christian leadership is not about ME FIRST and then the others.
It is about serving others – it is about releasing people into their ministry.
Story: I learnt to play guitar at college – and a friend of mine, Brig in the Christian Union taught me the basic chords.
I would then bring my guitar along to the CU and play along with her
One meeting she decided not to bring her guitar – and of course I offered her my guitar.
She said no – you play – even though she was much better at playing than I was
Brig allowed me to grow in my gifting – at her own expense.
That is Christian leadership.
Yet in our society, leadership is not seen in this way.
Can you imagine the Prime Minister bringing his secretary a cup of coffee in the morning!
People are interested in greatness to varying degrees.
Some are not interested in it at all.
For others – it is greatness enough just to be accepted and approved by friends and neighbours.
Still others seek greatness thorough position, power, possessions and prestige.
One commentator wrote this, "The nature of a person’s heart determines whether he secures his greatness by hook or crook or by respect and honesty, by meanness and depravity or by right and goodness. A man’s heart determines whether people are blessed or hurt by his greatness."
In this morning’s Gospel reading the disciples were arguing among themselves.
They all wanted to be the greatest in the Kingdom.
They wanted a place of honour, recognition and power.
But they had totally misunderstood the nature of the kingdom of God.
They were thinking in “earthly” terms where authority, power and wealth are considered top priority.
In response to the disciple’s selfish considerations, Jesus brings the masterful teaching that reveals the key to kingdom greatness.
He said “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
If that is the case then it seems as if the Kingdom of God is an upside-down Kingdom.
At least to this world’s eyes.
The greater you become in the Kingdom of God, the more you are called to have a servant heart.
Can that be right?
Jesus himself showed this principle at the Last Supper, when he took the role of a humble servant and washed
the disciples feet.
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man and he had this to say
"… the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:28).
A servant heart not something that comes naturally to us.
It is only something that happens to us as we allow God to make us more into the likeness of His Son, Jesus.
Are we willing to allow the Holy Spirit to change us?
That is the challenge.
Story: It was said of the late Charles Colson, President Nixon’s Special Counsel from 1969 to 73 during the Watergate scandal - that he would walk over his own grandmother’s grave to get power.