The Paradox of Leadership
Lord, thank You for the work of Your Holy Spirit in me. Work in me as I come to You now.
Read Mark 9:30-41
 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were,  because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”  But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.  They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”  But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.  Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them,  “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”  “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”  “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me,  for whoever is not against us is for us.  I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did Jesus challenge his disciples (and us) here?
Jesus has already told the disciples that following him means denying self (Tuesday’s reading)—but this message hasn’t yet sunk in. He talks to them about his own future act of supreme self-denial, but immediately they argue about which of them is the greatest disciple, who is the most visible, the most important, the one with the highest status.
Jesus knows this and turns it firmly upside down. Following him is not being concerned to be seen as his follower, or to have status as his follower. It’s about service: putting yourself last, thinking of others. The example of the child, one of the most overlooked members of society, reinforces this.
But they still haven’t caught on, and are concerned that someone unknown to them was acting in Jesus’ name. The disciples assume exclusive rights as followers; again Jesus refutes this idea (40). Human nature invariably seeks recognition for its achievements. God looks on our hearts (see 1 Sam. 16:7), for an attitude that gives all glory and praise to Jesus. Whose example are you following?
Give thanks for those you know who do God’s work without seeking the praise of God’s people.
Lord Jesus, I pray for a humble heart and a spirit of quiet service that reflects glory and praise to You.
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