Leading from the Rear

Mark 10:35-45

Jesus Teaches about Serving Others

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do us a favor.”

36 “What is your request?” he asked.

37 They replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”

39 “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”

Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering. 40 But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”

41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


The rulers of this world lord it over people and abuse their position. They take advantage of others. They use their positions to their own advantage.

There are many different forms of leadership. The first level (according to John Maxwell) is also the least effective level. This level is called, positional leadership. This level is where we follow people only because of their position. People tend to be at this level because their followers are worried about what might happen if they do not follow them. Fear can motivate but it is not the best motivator and it is certainly not a long-lasting one.

We cannot be an effective leader by poking and prodding. We are called to be shepherds, not cowboys (Lynn Anderson, They Smell Like Sheep). Shepherds guide their flocks. Cowboys drive the herd. The world and the rulers of this world are not what we need.


For us to lead, we must be willing to follow. The problem with leadership is that people have the impression that leaders/guides have all of the answers. They assume that the leaders is the only one with an opinion, and if there are other opinions, the leader’s is the only one that is right. We should be different. We can guide others because we “follow Him.” Jesus uses a great literary device. If you want to be great, then you must be a servant. If you want to be first, then you must be last. If you want to be on top, then you must be on the bottom.


Jesus did not come to be served, but to be a servant to OTHERS.

You can sum up the life of Jesus, and incidentally The Salvation Army, with that one word, OTHERS!

One of the best passage of scripture that highlights this characteristic of Christ is found in Philippians 2:6-8.

6 Though he was God,[a]
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b];
he took the humble position of a slave[c]
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,[d]
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

The New Living Translation says that “He gave up His divine privilege.” He became nothing. He even died for us.


The phrase, servant leadership, is used a lot lately in the church and in business. Most people have a tendency to focus on the leadership part more than the servant part. For us to truly lead like Jesus, we must begin as servants. Then we begin to lead. Not the other way around!

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