Once, Jesus' disciples were squabbling over who held pride of place in their organization. Jesus cut them off with a terse statement:
"Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant" (Mark 10:43b).
Sounds simple, right?
Only, we never seem to get it right.
During the height of the power of the former Soviet Union, there was a phrase which captured the regime's political philosophy - "Kto kovo".
Translated, it means "Who dominates whom?"
The answer, it was implied, tells us who the winner is.
If you dominate, you are hold all the cards. You can impose your will, craft your desires into policy and procedures, protect yourself against your enemies, secure your control, guarantee your influence.
Only, you haven't - and the scrapyards of history are littered with those who have subscribed to the philosophy of dominance. Many of them were terribly successful for a time. But, in the end, they fade into the shadows.
Most of us aren't quite so brazen as the former Soviets about our desire to dominate.
We cloak our need to control in lots of ways - "I need to make sure quality standards are met". "I've worked too hard to get here to let it slip away now". "I have the chance to devote my energy to this place; my (customers, congregation members, employees) just can't see everything I see". "Weak leaders get left behind". "Things are tough here - a visionary leader is needed to turn the tide".
But all come from the same place - I gotta win. Who dominates whom?
Jesus turns the power scale upside down.
He gets the desire to dominate. His disciples hung out with him all the time, and they still had it. But he also knows that domination will wreck families, marriages, churches, friendships, organizations of all kind.
You simply can't lose if you position yourself as a servant. A strong servant, to be sure - one with an unassailable sense of who you are and the values you hold.
But a servant, nonetheless. Counting the interest of those you serve as more important than your own. Choosing to believe that your family's or organizations deeply held values are more important than you, your pride, your position.
Leaders serve, and servants lead.
How would those you love and lead describe you?