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. Not so with you.Mark 10:42-43a
Jesus sees the cross waiting for Him. James and John see thrones waiting for them. And what do the other ten see? They see James and John! They are angry and upset at them. Why? Because they got to Jesus first. Obviously they wanted the same things that James and John did and were angry only because James and John beat them to it. This is often the explanation for our anger, is it not? We are so often upset because somebody thought of it before we did.
But notice how Jesus sets aside all this business of politicking and maneuvering and asking for special privileges. That is the way the world works, but it is not to be part of the kingdom of God. In the kingdom—the church, if you like—there is not to be struggling and striving for position and honor. Paul brings this out so beautifully in his development of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, where he says that because we have gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit and a ministry opened to us by the Lord Jesus and power granted to us by the heavenly Father, we do not need to be in competition with anybody.
This is what our Lord wants to set before His disciples, so He gathers them together and patiently says,
Now, fellows, sit down. I want to say something to you. You've looked at the Gentiles. Have you noticed that when they exercise authority, it is always over somebody else? They measure their power by how many are under them. That is the mark of their authority. It is still true today. That is the way people do things, the way they judge their success. And although it produces all kinds of rivalry, competition, skullduggery, politicking, conniving, maneuvering, manipulating, and trying to undercut everybody else, nevertheless, you cannot blame people for that, because that is all they know.
The key is in these words:
Not so with you. The church is not to be set up as a hierarchy of power. There is no chain of command in the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus had already said to these disciples,
You have only one Master and you are all brothers (Matthew 23:8). Every apostle is careful to remind us of the danger of lording it over one another, the problems that arise when those in positions of authority think they have the right to tell others what to do or how to act or what to think or how to behave, believing they have the right to make decisions that others must follow. This is not true in the church. Paul is careful to say to the Corinthians,
Not that we lord it over your faith (2 Corinthians 1:24). That is,
You can do what you want. You stand before God, responsible to Him, not to me. But he is also faithful to point out what it is they need to do and to warn them of the results that may follow if they do not want to do it. But no one is ever to be commanded to do something by another person in the church. Only the Lord commands.
Thank You, Lord, that You are my Master, and You've made me a significant part of Your church.
How do the leadership principles Jesus teaches equip his disciples to live counter-culturally? How does a true follower cope with political & personal power struggles?