1. Servant Leadership Is Willing To Suffer (verses 32-34).
2. Servant Leadership Doesn't Seek for Status (verses 35-41).
3. Servant Leadership Wants to Serve (verses 42-45).

In the life of any church, there are certain milestones you reach, as you watch the Lord build His church. In the life of Rock Valley Bible Church, this has been no different. There have been many dates in our short history that have been marked as milestones.

April 5th, 1997 was a milestone date. That was ten years ago, on my thirtieth birthday. My wife and I and our two children (at the time), were serving in DeKalb, at Kishwaukee Bible Church. A family visited our church for the first time from Rockford. We invited them over for lunch immediately after the service. Soon, they came to be involved in our church. Over the course of the next year, three other families joined them in their commute from Rockford to DeKalb each Sunday.

July 2nd, 1998 was another milestone date for us. On that day, we began a Thursday evening Flock Bible Study in Rockford, with the vision of eventually planting a church in Rockford. For the next two years, we meet together in a home here in Rockford. Our next milestone was July 2nd, 2000. On that day, our small group of people began meeting in a public location. We rented out a small church building for Sunday evening services.

May 18th, 2001 was another milestone date. That was my first day on paid staff at Rock Valley Bible Church. I slowly weaned myself from my previous job. By September, I was working full time for Rock Valley Bible Church. On March 3rd, 2002, we began our transition from meeting Sunday nights to Sunday mornings. We began renting Rockford Christian High School on this day.

On November 2nd, 2003, Lance Milton was installed into the office of deacon. On September 5, 2005, Gordy Bell was installed as an elder. And now, we have come to another milestone day in the life of our church: January 21, 2007. At the end of our service this morning, we will be installing Doug Sosnowski as a deacon of Rock Valley Bible Church.

At Rock Valley Bible Church, we believe that the Lord has given two offices to the local church: (1) the office of elder, and (2) the office of deacon. The qualifications of these offices are spelled out clearly for us in 1 Timothy, chapter 3. The first seven verses of the chapter begins with a description of the characteristics necessary for elders (sometimes called “overseers” or “pastors”). Verses 8-13 describe the characteristics of deacons.

The duties of these offices are described throughout the Scripture. The elders/overseers/pastors of the church are to focus their attention primarily upon the spiritual needs of the church. Their focus is prayer and the ministry of the word. Their focus is upon overseeing the church. Their focus is upon pastoring the church. Their focus is upon leading the church. The deacons of the church are to focus their attention primarily upon the physical needs of the church. Their focus is service. Their focus is upon the financial matters of the church. Their focus is upon helping those in the church with physical needs. Their focus is upon serving others in tangible ways. That’s a huge generalization of the differences between the two offices at church, but they give you an idea of where those in the different offices focus their effort in serving the church. That's not to say that deacons never serve in Spiritual areas, because they do, especially when helping people through a financial crisis. Nor is this to say that elders never help physically. There are many circumstances in which they give themselves to helping the physical needs of the people.

Currently, we have two elders at the church: Gordy Bell and myself. Currently, we have one deacon at the church: Lance Milton. This morning, Doug Sosnowski will become our second deacon at the church. In light of the occasion, I’m delaying my last exposition on the book of Colossians to address the issue of leadership in the local church. Please consider our text this morning: Mark 10:32-45.

Mark 10:32-45
They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again."

James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You." And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?" They said to Him, "Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" They said to Him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared." Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.

Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

These verses deal with spiritual leadership. In these verses, Jesus describes what true spiritual leadership is. In these verses, Jesus demonstrates what true spiritual leadership is. Jesus boils all of it down to two words: selfless service. The way to lead people spiritually is not by manipulation or by a special technique or through intimidation. On the contrary, genuine spiritual leadership takes place when you give of yourself sacrificially in service to others. My message this morning is entitled, “Servant Leadership,” because this is what spiritual leadership is all about. In his excellent book, entitled, “Spiritual Leadership,” J. Oswald Sanders writes the following: “True greatness, true leadership, is achieved not by reducing men to one’s service, but in giving oneself in selfless service to them." [1]

This is the heart of our passage this morning. The great leader leads by becoming a servant of all. This message is very appropriate for us this morning as we install another deacon, whose function is to give himself in service to the church. My message this morning isn’t going to be so much on the particular duties of a deacon, as it will be upon the attitude that any deacon of the church ought to have. He is to be a servant, just like the greatest leader who ever walked on the planet: Jesus Christ. Her's my first point:

1. Servant Leadership Is Willing To Suffer (verses 32-34).

Our text picks up the story in verse 32 with Jesus and His disciples (Mark 10:23) going up to Jerusalem. The Passover is near, and Jesus was soon to die. The disciples knew that His end was near. Ever since they took a retreat up north into Caesarea Philippi, they knew that His days were numbered. They knew that Jesus was going to suffer many things and eventually be killed (Mark 8:31; 9:31). His disciples knew that this would take place in Jerusalem, that city that “kills the prophets and stones those that are sent to her” (Matt. 23:37). And so, they are heading up to Jerusalem.

As He’s walking with His disciples, Jesus isn’t being dragged into the city, as if He really didn’t want to get to the city. He wasn’t the little child, screaming and kicking in protest of going to the dentist’s office. He wasn’t the manager of a business, reluctantly telling an employ that he was being laid off. On the contrary, Jesus was eager and willing to enter the city. If you look carefully at the text, you find out that if anything Jesus was dragging His disciples into the city. “Jesus was walking on ahead of them” (verse 32). There was a skip in His step. He was eager to accomplish this work in Jerusalem. When you think about this for a bit of time, you will be astonished. Jesus was the One who was on His way to the execution chamber, while His disciples were merely going to watch. But, it was Jesus who led the way, while His disciples were hesitant, and lagged behind.

We read in verse 32 that His disciples were “amazed” and “fearful” (verse 32). I’m sure that Jesus detected their apprehension about their trip into Jerusalem, which is why he “took the twelve aside ... to tell them what was going to happen to Him” (verse 32). He said, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles” (verses 33-34). This was the third time that Jesus said this to His disciples. The first came in chapter 8, verse 31, where Jesus told His disciples, “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” The second time came in chapter 9, verse 31, where Jesus taught His disciples, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” And now, it comes again, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles” (verses 33-34).

The great point on these verses is that the sufferings of Christ didn’t come by accident. Jesus knew full well what was about to take place when He arrived in Jerusalem. It meant His death. He didn’t die in Jerusalem as the result of a political ploy gone astray. He wasn’t crucified in Jerusalem due to poor timing for His revolution. Rather, His death was according to the predestined will of God. And yet, Jesus was willing to suffer. It is this very point that is our application.

Now, certainly, the suffering that Jesus endured is vastly different than the suffering that any leader in the church will experience. But, suffering has always been the reality for those who lead the church.

Paul’s own description of his ministry shows how filled it was with suffering. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:11-13, "To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now." We could read many more passages that are similar to this in describing his suffering. (Consider the following: 2 Corinthians 4:8-9; 6:4-10; 11:21-29; 12:10; Rom. 8:35-36; Phil. 4:12). Paul knew the suffering that took place for those in positions of spiritual leadership.

Today, it is no different. Admittedly, there are some spiritual leaders who face little by way of suffering. I would put most American church leaders in this category. For the most part, the suffering of American church leaders comes usually from within the church. Sometimes the suffering comes in the form of name-calling when a disagreement arises as a result of doctrinal differences. At other times the suffering comes as disgruntled church members let their disappointments be known. But, there are other leaders in the church, who face much in the way of suffering. I would put the faithful leaders in foreign lands who are hostile to the gospel in this category. In some countries, pastors are intimidated and kidnapped in an effort to reduce their influence. In the former Soviet Union, countless pastors were imprisoned. Reports from China today come back with news of many pastors who are in prison right now. Many church leaders have even gone to their death in their faithfulness to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

As terrible as this suffering is, the suffering of Jesus went beyond this. Not only did Jesus suffer to the point of death, but He also suffered the punishment of the wrath of God that our sins deserve! When Jesus was delivered “to the chief priests and the scribes” to be handed over to the Gentiles to be killed upon the cross (verse 34), the physical punishment that Jesus endured was merely the means of setting of the table for the wrath of God to come upon Him. As Jesus was upon the table of the cross, God was able to take the cup of His wrath, and pour it upon His Son, and that suffering is far than any church leader will ever experience.

To make matters worse, the suffering of Jesus was completely undeserved. John 15:25, says, “They hated [Him] without a cause.” Jesus was sinless, and yet, He suffered the fate that our sin deserved, “becoming sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21). Much of the suffering that takes place among the leaders in the church of Jesus Christ comes as fully deserved. I have suffered a bit at the hands of others. often, the suffering that has come has been the result of my sin. In such cases, I deserve such suffering, but, not so with Jesus. He deserved none of it, but was willing to take all of it. That’s why He was leading the procession up to Jerusalem.

The willingness of Jesus to suffer ought to be true of every leader in the church. (1) Servant Leadership Is Willing To Suffer (verses 32-34). Servant leadership is willing to endure the difficulties that come with leading the church. Servant leadership is willing to “spend and be spent.” Servant leadership is willing to give all for Christ. Servant leadership is willing to sacrifice all for the church. Let’s move to my second point this morning.

2. Servant Leadership Doesn't Seek for Status (verses 35-41).

We see this in the negative example of James and John. They were seeking for their own status and exaltation. They wanted a position of prominence, and were wanting it by being appointed into that position. We see their attempts to seek for status beginning in verse 35, ...

Mark 10:35-37
James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You." And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?" They said to Him, "Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory."

The timing of this discussion with Jesus couldn’t have been worse. Jesus had just spoken with all of His disciples of His upcoming death, and it wasn’t going to be a pleasant death. He would be mocked. He would be spit upon. He would be scourged. He would be killed. It’s as if James and John didn’t even hear what Jesus was saying. Their timing was all wrong. Asking for the opportunity to sit at the right and left of Jesus in His glory at this time, would be like asking your boss for a raise, just after he made a company-wide announced that they were declaring bankruptcy. Or, it would be like asking for extra vacation time, just after being fired from a job. Or, it would be like hearing your close friend tell you that he's dying of cancer, and then, you ask, "Can I have your CD collection?" It was plain bad timing.

Their question demonstrates that they were in it totally for themselves. They were seeking status and reputation and power for themselves. You can see how they were seeking to manipulate the situation in verse 35, when they first want to secure from Jesus a favorable response, before they even ask the question, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You” (verse 35). I’m sure they wanted to hear what Herod told his step-daughter, who asked a similar question (Mark 6:22), “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom (Mark 6:23). But, Jesus was wiser than Herod. Jesus could sense their manipulation. He sensed it in the religious leaders, who often questioned Him (Mark 2:8). Jesus sensed it also in these disciples.

I don’t think that it any special revelation from God to know what was on the mind of these two disciples. I think that it simply took a little perception and awareness of the situation. Immediately after Jesus had told them of His upcoming death for the second time (back in Mark, chapter 9), the disciples had a discussion amongst themselves as to who was the greatest (Mark 9:34). It was probably a common topic for them. Jesus could easily have anticipated such a similar question in this situation. Without promising anything, Jesus simply asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (verse 36).

And in verse 37, they shoot for the moon. They asked, “Grant that we may sit , one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” The magnitude of their question was enormous. They were asking to sit at the right hand and left hand of Jesus in His kingdom! It’s like they were asking to be vice-president of a Fortune 500 company, because they were friends with the president and CEO. It’s like they were asking the president of the United States for a place on His cabinet of advisors, but far greater. Seated at the right and left of Jesus, would allow James and John to advise Jesus on how He should reign over His eternal kingdom!

In verse 38, Jesus acknowledged just how poor this question was. He said, “You do not know what you are asking.” God’s kingdom doesn’t work on the basis of political favors and appointments. In God’s kingdom, it’s not, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” No, in God’s kingdom, the way up is down. This is the way that it has always been for God’s servants. Before Moses was able to lead the people out of slavery from Egypt, he first had to wait 40 years in Midian, pondering his choice “to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Before David was able to rise to the throne, he had to endure the constant attacks of the jealous king (1 Sam. 17-31). When the apostle Paul was used so mightily, God struck him with a thorn in the flesh that tormented him, “to keep [him] from exalting [himself]” (2 Cor. 12:7).

The reason why Jesus is so high and exalted in the kingdom is precisely because of how low and shameful was His death. This is the teaching of Philippians 2:6-11,

Philippians 2:6-11
Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. Ao that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The reason why Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, with a name that is above every name (Phil. 2:9), to whom every knee will bow someday (Phil. 2:10), with which every tongue will confess (Phil. 2:11), is precisely because He humbled Himself so greatly. Philippians 2:9 says that it was Christ’s great dissension from such lofty heights that enabled Him to be exalted so highly. He’s the greatest creature in the Universe! He went to the depths of humanity - to death, even death on a cross. “For this reason,” God highly exalted Him (Phil. 2:9).

Do you want to sit at the right and the left of Jesus? Then, you need to experience the depths of suffering that Jesus experienced. In His commentary on Mark, William Hendriksen said is simply: “A request for glory is a request for suffering." [2]This is what Jesus was getting at in verse 38, when He asked James and John, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (verse 38). With these words, Jesus is alluding to His upcoming death. This is the terminology that Jesus used in the garden in His despair, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:35). The baptism that He referred to was His immersion in sorrow and difficulty that would soon come upon Him. Drinking the cup was the active obedience of Jesus, that actively took the suffering upon Himself. Being baptized was the passive obedience of Jesus, that willingly received the immersion into His sufferings upon the cross. He brought both of these things to the attention of His disciples. Remember, “A request for glory is a request for suffering.”

With a clueless confidence, James and John said, “We are able” (verse 39). They should have learned from Baruch. The LORD told him, “Are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them” (Jer. 45:5). But, these disciples wanted the status, and they wanted it bad. They professed an ability to endure tremendous sufferings. And so, Jesus then responded, “OK, You’ll get the suffering. But, I cannot promise your seat of influence in the kingdom.” His precise words were, "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” With these words, Jesus puts James and John back to where they need to be. They were seeking for status, and Jesus gave them suffering. But, in giving them suffering, He gave them the path to status they so eagerly desired.

James and John suffered mightily. James was the second martyr in the church. (Stephen, the first martyr, was killed by the Jewish mob in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 7). In Acts 12:2, we read of how James “was put to death with a sword” (Acts 12:2). This took place less than 10 years after this conversation took place. John spent his final years in exile on the island of Patmos, as a prisoner, due to his faithfulness to “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 1:9). When you think, "island," don't think Hawaii or Tahiti. Rather, think Alcatraz. Patmos wasn’t a pleasant place to be. It was hot and rocky and uncomfortable. James and John drank from the cup of suffering.

In the end, they obtained a measure of status. In the New Jerusalem, the names of these two men will be inscribed upon two of the twelve foundation stones of the city (Rev. 21:14). Other than that, we don’t know if they have any other position of prominence will be granted to them in the kingdom. We don’t know if they ever obtained the status they were looking for. Oh, I suppose that someday we will know, when we see the throne of God. We simply need to take our eyes off of Jesus momentarily (if that is even possible), and look to His right and to His left, to see if James and John are seated there. My guess is that nobody will be seated there, as God has declared, "I will not give My glory to another" (Isaiah 42:8).

Servant Leadership Doesn’t Seek for Status (verses 35-40). And don’t think that it was only James and John who had this desire. In verse 41, we read of how the other ten disciples “began to feel indignant with James and John.” They were angry with them. There may have been feelings of betrayal. There may have been feelings of jealousy. There may have been feelings of broken trust. They had discussed before about who was the greatest, but now, James and John were taking opportunity to secure their point, that they were the greatest.

In Luke 14:8-11, Jesus told a great parable to those who were seeking status in the kingdom. The setting was a gathering of religious folk at a dinner party. Jesus noticed how the “invited guests ... had been picking out places of honor at the table” (Luke 14:7). Everybody was seeking to sit at the place of honor, thereby demonstrating their religious prominence in the community. Jesus said, ...

Luke 14:8-11
When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, "Give your place to this man," and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, "Friend, move up higher"; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

This is the way that those in the positions of spiritual leadership ought to seek any status that they desire--not by seeking some sort of appointment into a position of prominence, but, by seeking the work. And then, as others identify in you a giftedness and a heart and a willing heart for the work, the status will come in due time and in appropriate ways. I believe that this is what Paul was getting at in 1 Timothy, chapter 3, when he spoke about the one aspiring to the office of overseer in the church. He says, “It’s a fine work he desires to do” (1 Timothy 3:1). He places the emphasis upon the work, and not the office.

Shepherding and serving are fine works to desire. Elders should be shepherding people long before they obtain the office. Deacons should be serving people long before they obtain the office. And I say to all of you men who aspire to have a position of spiritual leadership within the local church someday. Do the work today. Do it with all your heart. Get to know people. Serve them. Love them. Share your life with them. And then, trust the Lord to place you in the position of leadership. Don’t seek it through manipulation or some kind of political appointment to the office. Seek it through service. This is the path to leadership.

3. Servant Leadership Wants to Serve (verses 42-45).

In this point of the conversation, Jesus sensed the need to go over these things one more time.

Mark 10:42-45
Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Jesus had already had a similar conversation with His disciples. Back in Mark 9:35, He sat the twelve disciples down for a little chat after He discovered that they had been arguing over who had been the greatest. He told them here, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). This is almost the exact same thing that Jesus said in here in Mark 10:44, “whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.”

It’s like they can’t get it through their thick skulls. They need to be told several times! I can understand that. This is a difficult lesson to learn. It’s counter intuitive. Everything within us thinks the opposite. We think that the way to prominence is the front of the line. We think that the way to be first is to assert ourselves to be first. But, this is simply the way of the world.

There is a way that the world seeks to lead. And there is a way that God wants for us to lead. The world leads by “looking out for number 1.” If somebody doesn’t do exactly as you say, you can simply raise your voice and show your anger in an effort to intimidate the person to do as you want. In the workplace, bosses use their authority to squeeze their employees to do what is required of them. People in the world are boastful and arrogant and use whatever is in their power to get their own way, and thereby move up the ranks in power.

Perhaps you remember the time in which Solomon died. The kingdom passed to his son, Rehoboam. Though he received the counsel from the elders of the land to “lighten the yoke which Solomon put on [the people]” (1 Kings 12:9), Rehoboam sought to “lord it over them.” He told the people, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions” (1 Kings 12:14). The result was that he actually lost his ability to lead the people. Ten of the twelve tribes revolted under his leadership and began to follow the leadership of Jeroboam. The nation was split in two. But, this is how the world often leads, with power and intimidation. But, Jesus says the opposite. In verse 43, Jesus says, “But it is not this way among you.” The manner of God’s people needs to be different.

Rather than leveraging authority, God’s leaders are to be servants (verse 43). God’s people are to be slaves of all (verse 44). The greatest spiritual leaders will be the greatest of servants. That’s the teaching of verses 43-44, "Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. Notice, there is no hint here of any discouragement on the part of Jesus to discourage any away from seeking spiritual greatness. The exhortation, however, has to do with the manner in which greatness is sought. Greatness is sought through sacrifical, selfless service.

About five years ago, Yvonne and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary by going on a cruise to Alaska. Our trip was given to us as an anniversary present by her parents. For those of you who have been on cruises, you know that the entire deal is set up so that you feel pampered. They want your stay upon the ship to be a time of utter relaxation. Crew members are aboard the ship to help you with anything that you need. When you arrive, you leave your luggage at the door, with a tag. As you wander around the ship, you will find that your luggage has been delivered by a porter to your room. You can eat as much food as you want to eat. Chefs are waiting for you to make a special request, so that they can serve your food to you just as you want it served. Every night, we enjoyed a six-course meal. The waiters would fix the food any way that we wanted it. They were eager to get it right. Your cabin is meticulously cleaned every day. In fact, I remember coming into our room at night, after our evening activities, and our bed was always made perfectly. The sheets were drawn without a wrinkle. Each night, there was often a little piece of chocolate, set upon the pillow.

If Jesus had come along on our cruise, He may well have asked us the question, “Do you know who the greatest person on this ship is? It’s not any of the guests who have the means to enjoy the cruise. No, it's the laborer down in the hull, who works 18 hours a day, cleaning dishes and washing clothes for $20/day. That’s true greatness.”

This is God’s way. The way up is down. It’s the poor in spirit, who are rich in the kingdom. It’s those who mourn who will be happy. It’s those who hunger and thirst who will be satisfied. It’s the persecuted who will be blessed. "The broken heart is the healed heart, ... the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, ... the repenting soul is the victorious soul, ... to have nothing is to possess all, ... to bear the cross is to wear the crown, ... to give is to receive." [3]

Peter learned this lesson. When he was counseling the spiritual leaders in the scattered, persecuted churches, he told them to, "shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock" (1 Peter. 5:2-3). Effective spiritual leaders are those who demonstrate their heart for people by loving them and serving them. That's how you influence people for the kingdom of God. I know of my failures in this area. I know of my lack of loving and serving people as I ought to do to be an effective spiritual leader.

And Jesus showed us the way. He said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). It’s not merely that Jesus told His disciples what to do. Rather, He demonstrated His teaching by example. The Lord of the universe didn’t come among us to enjoy the pleasures of this life, tanning on the beaches of Hawaii, living a life of luxury, being served by crew members of a cruise ship. When Jesus came to earth, He came as a servant. He was a servant in His life. He was a servant in His death. He didn't tell us, "Do as I say and not as I do." Rather, He said, "Do as I do. Follow My example."

All that He did upon the earth was focused upon helping others. He healed the sick. He cast out demons. He made the blind to see. He made the lame to walk. He made the deaf to hear. Nobody ever left the presence of Jesus with a disease that wasn’t cured. He healed “all diseases and all sicknesses among the people” (Matt. 4:23). On the night in which Jesus was betrayed, He gave a great example to His disciples of His life as a servant. In the upper room, with His disciples all around Him, Jesus, "got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded" (John 13:4-5). This was the lowest task that Jesus could have done in that day. Washing one another’s feet was reserved only for slaves of the house. But, Jesus wanted to serve His disciples in this way. He explained what He did, saying, ...

John 13:12-17
So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them."

The admonition comes straight to us, “you are blessed if you do them.” Whether it's a leader in the church or whether it is faithful father or little girl who loves Christ, we are all called to be servants of one another. But, this especially applies to leaders in the church. Spiritual leaders need to be "servant leaders."

Not only was Jesus a servant in His life, but also in His death. In dying for our sins, Jesus demonstrated how He was the ultimate servant. He died to redeem His people from their sins. "He gave His life a ransom for many." When you hear the word, "ransom," you often think of a kidnapper, who has taken a person hostage, demanding a price for the release of this individual. In a very real way, our sins have held us hostage. To be freed from our sins, we needed someone to pay the ransom price. This is what Jesus did upon the cross. His blood freed us from our sins! His blood redeemed us from the penalty of death! It is through His death that we are now free to serve! And those who lead in the church need to be "servant leaders."

(1) Servant Leadership Is Willing To Suffer (verses 32-34). (2) Servant Leadership Doesn't Seek for Status (verses 35-41). (3) Servant Leadership Wants to Serve (verses 42-45). Oh, may this be true of every leader at Rock Valley Bible Church! [4]


This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on January 21, 2007 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www. rockvalleybiblechurch. org.

[1] J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, p. 20 (Moody Bible Institute: 1980).

[2] William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark, p. 411.

[3] Taken from a prayer in "The Valley of Vision" (from the introduction to the book).

[4] After this message, we installed Doug Sosnowski as a deacon at Rock Valley Bible Church. I had an opportunity to read the following comments made by families in the church as I spoke with them about Doug's character. May such things characterize all of us.

- Don't have any reservations about it. Doug does a tremendous job as a servant. He has a heart to help people. He seems to be genuine. We don't have anything negative.
- We are very happy to stand behind Doug.
- He has certainly demonstrated himself to be the servant of the church.
- Really have nothing to say. I haven't seen anything that would stop the process. Go ahead with the process.
- I don't have any warnings against Doug. I like Doug very much. He's a great example. I have no problems with him at all. He is someone to look up to.
- I don't know much about him personally. He is one of the first people whose name I knew. He stands out as a guy who is very welcoming and hospitable.
- Doug has displayed his service for us for several years. He has proved for us his service extensively. He would receive very high marks from me. His work is obvious ... preparing each service and putting everything away after each service. He's a stellar example of a servant.
- I fully affirm Doug.
- You know as well as anyone in the church how much he does.
- I support it fully. Doug's service to the church is unquestioned (i.e. done setup for years). He serves everything in the church each week.
- You can't find a guy with a more willing heart to serve.
- I think Doug is fantastic. I have really enjoyed Doug being apart of my life. He's fun. he's not doing it because he has to do it, but because he wants to do it.
- He's got our blessing.
- He's got a servant's heart. There's not much more that you can say. I have no apprehension about him. I'd be all for it.
- I haven't had much time with Doug. First Sunday that I attended church, Doug went out of his way to see me and my wife. He was very friendly. He told of the historical background of the church. He was very friendly and helpful.
- His servanthood is exemplary.
- He will do a great job of deacon. He goes above and beyond what is thought or expected of him. He will do well as a deacon.
- Two thumbs up. We appreciate everything he does.
- From what I have observed, he has been filling the role unofficially. It would be a shame not to make it official.
- Go for it.