Tuesday: Servant Leadership

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Read 1 Peter 5:3 and Matthew 20:24-28. What crucial principles of Christian leadership are found in these texts?

In Greek, the key word in 1 Peter 5:3 is katakurieuontes. The same word also is found in Matthew 20:25 and means to “exercise dominion” or to “lord it” over someone. Thus, the instruction to elders given in 1 Peter 5:3 might be translated, “Do not lord it over those in your charge” (NRSV), and reflects the words of Jesus in Matthew 20:25.

Christ Washing Feet

Christ’s Example Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Matthew 20:20-23 provides the context for the sayings of Jesus in Matthew 20:24-28. The mother of James and John had approached Jesus with the request that, when Jesus came into His kingdom, one son should sit at His right side and the other at His left.

“Jesus bears tenderly with them, not rebuking their selfishness in seeking preference above their brethren. He reads their hearts, He knows the depth of their attachment to Him. Their love is not a mere human affection; though defiled by the earthliness of its human channel, it is an outflowing from the fountain of His own redeeming love. He will not rebuke, but deepen and purify.” – Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 548.

Jesus explains that this position of honor is one that is granted by the Father, not Him. But then He goes on to explain that a key difference between His kingdom and those of the Gentile nations is the type of leader that will emerge in His kingdom. Those who wish to lead in the kingdom where Jesus is King must become servants because the leaders in Jesus’ kingdom will be like Jesus. “‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many’” (Matt. 20:28, NRSV).

Thus, Peter is calling church leaders to the same ideal: the surrender and self-denial seen in Jesus must be revealed in them, as well.

Read Philippians 2:4-8. How does what Paul says here coincide with what Peter wrote? More important, how can we do the things that we are called to in these verses?
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