Many young and new leaders suffer from wanting to bloom before they grow. Jesus taught, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Serve people. Focus on serving instead of focusing on the status of achieving a position…
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
39 “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Just the way James and John approach Jesus tells us something about their current leadership model. They are pushy and direct and entitled. We want you to do for us whatever we ask. Do they realize they are speaking to the One who assembled the stars and planets and their own organs… Jesus could have responded by flicking them across the galaxy. Jesus is way more gracious than me.
He asked them what they wanted. Status. The answer was status. Let me sit at your right hand and my brother at your right hand. Big ask.
Jesus immediately identified something that is typical of many immature leaders: they want to bloom before they grow. They want leadership status and position without the investment and experience and war wounds. “You don’t know what you’re asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink?”
Key question. Can you drink the leadership cup? Can you handle what I have to handle? James and John say yes. Again, they don’t even know what they are saying. The truth is, they will drink the cup of Jesus. They will suffer as Jesus would suffer. And they don’t even know it.
The other disciples were furious when they heard James and John were talking like this with Jesus. Not because they were more holy or righteous in their own views, but rather because the two brothers beat them to the punch. Jesus used it as an opportunity to reset all their expectations:
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Servanthood is the way. Don’t lord your leadership over other people in the way you exercise authority. Follow my example. Serve people. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
What’s the takeaway? Focus on serving instead of focusing on the status of achieving a position. Focus on serving instead of pushing your authority around like a battering ram. You will be amazed at the results.