August 23, 2023

Great Leaders

Written by Boyd Bailey

Great leaders lead by serving others.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 23, 2023

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:25-28

Great leaders serve instead of insisting on being served. And in the process, they trust the Lord for recognition, remuneration, and promotion. Yet, Jesus has to remind two of His disciples, James and John, who either allowed or enlisted their mother (to the dismay of the other ten) to serve as a proxy on their behalf to persuade Jesus to elevate her two sons to a higher status and authority. Jesus had just explained to the twelve for the third time of His imminent arrival in Jerusalem, where He will be delivered to the authorities, condemned to death, flogged, crucified, and raised from the dead on the third day. Stunningly, Mom, with no filter of sensitivity to what Jesus had just said, rushes forward in self-preservation of Her sons. But, even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, Jesus lovingly reminds everyone. Great leaders lead by serving others. 

Time and time again, Jesus teaches the compelling truth of the humble role of great leaders. The opening verse of the Sermon on the Mount declares the poor in spirit, the meek as those who inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). The Lord commands us to learn of Him who is meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:28-30). Humble children are whom Christ exalts when pushed by His disciples to pronounce who is greatest in His kingdom (Matthew 18:1). Calling out the religious leaders who loved being seen up front, Jesus declared, He that is greatest among you shall be your servant (Matthew 23:11). Even in the sacred moment of the Last Supper the disciples are still disputing over who would be chief among them. The greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves (Luke 22: 26-27), Jesus lovingly clarifies greatness.

Charles Spurgeon punctuates the profound truth of Jesus coming to serve us,

Be ye, saints or sinners, be ye saved already, or athirst for the knowledge of salvation, the thought that Christ’s errand was not to aggrandize Himself, but to benefit us, must be welcome. He does not come to be served but to serve. Does not this suit you, poor sinner—you who never did serve Him, you who could not, as you are, minister to Him? Well, He did not come to get your service. He came to give you His services, not that you might first do Him honor, but that He might show you mercy. Oh! you need Him so very much. And since He has come not to look for treasures, but to bestow unsearchable riches, not to find specimens of health, but instances of sickness upon which the healing art of His grace may operate, surely there is hope for you. Methinks were I just now seeking Christ and sorely cast down in spirit, it would make my heart beat for joy to think that Jesus came to serve and not to be served.

Jesus serves you, so you can serve Him!

Jesus serves you first with His salvation, so then you are able to share the good news of Jesus’ salvation with other needy souls. Jesus serves you with His limitless forgiveness, so you are able to forgive others for Christ’s sake. Jesus serves you with His tender mercy so you are able to be merciful toward hard, hurting hearts. Jesus serves you with His abundant love, so you are able to experience His abundant life by how you generously love others. You are served to serve!

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).


Heavenly Father, humble my heart to allow you to serve me, so I may be a humble servant of yours through Christ’s love, and in Jesus’ name, Amen.


In what area of life do you need to stop seeking control and instead start serving?

Related Reading

Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 5:42; Hebrews 6:10; 1 Peter 4:10

Worship Resource

I Am They feat. Cheyenne Mitchell: Gratitude (Acoustic, Chapel Sessions)


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