Jesus said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” - Mark 9:35
There are many kinds of leaders. Some lead by example. Others lead by instilling fear. Some lead with decisiveness, others lead by consensus. Some leaders focus on logical 10 point plans while others focus on teamwork and delegation. No matter what their style, by virtue of being leaders, they have influence in this world, and they can use that influence in whatever they choose, really. Those in leadership can choose to be out to serve themselves, or can strive to serve others.
People don’t tend to expect servant leaders. Whether it’s a king, emperor, dictator, president, prime minister, CEO or bishop, in our experience, leadership is often equated with some kind of prestige and power over others. In our experience, It is not unusual for leaders to play the system for personal profit and power. I guess that’s not so different than it was in Jesus’ day, when Herod and Pilate and the Romans and Babylonians wielded their armies and wealth as they vied with each other to find out who was the greatest.
The disciples had dreams of privileged leadership themselves. With all the amazing miracles Jesus was performing, there was no telling what kind of fame and status would be ahead of them! They were each obviously thinking about how to get ahead, because they were arguing about who among them was greatest as they walked down the road. But Jesus tells them that the one who wishes to be first must be last of all - servant of all.
In whatever spheres of influence you happen to have (and we all have some), as Christians, we are called to be less like warriors leading the charge or landowners lording it over their subjects, and more like shepherds bringing up the rear and making sure that not one sheep is lost. We may tend to assume, as the disciples did, that great leaders pull their followers into greatness. But servant leaders focus not on what is good for them or even for their own group, but focus on the greater good for all.
The readings for this Sunday are HERE. Note that in ordinary time, we are using the readings from “Track 2”