Jesus defined what it means to be great in His Kingdom.
The greatest among you must be a servant (Matthew 23:11).
What He didn’t say in that passage is important too. He didn’t say that one who is great because they are a servant couldn’t also be a leader.
I think we give leadership a bad connotation sometimes. In fact, I’ve known people who wouldn’t take the role of leader because they felt it was the more “pious” thing to do. And because of that, I think we rob the church of some great servant-leaders.
And I get why we don’t always think of leaders as servants.
We see politicians who abuse power.
We see pastors who misuse trust.
We see corporate giants who seem only concerned with the “bottom line.”
It’s easy to see where we would begin to paint a negative view of leadership.
But there are also leaders who are great because they serve.
They serve others by leading them places they wouldn’t or couldn’t go on their own.
They serve others by giving of themselves for the benefit of others—even above their own good.
They serve others without believing they deserve some special recognition or award—but just because they feel the call to be servant-leaders.
There are some great servant-leaders.
And you can no doubt name some great servant leaders who have advanced good for other people. Abraham Lincoln. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mother Theresa.
That Sunday School teacher who had a great impact on your life.
None of those people are perfect, but they served in leadership for the good of others.
One of my favorite examples in Scripture is a man commended by Jesus. You may recall the story. A centurion had a soldier under him who was sick. He wanted Jesus to heal him.
A centurion was a leader—usually of 100 men—and he had likely started as a soldier working his way up through the ranks to this leadership position.
Notice what the crowds said about this centurion leader.
And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue” (Luke 7:4-5).
They thought he was worthy. A worthy leader. A servant leader. He had used his position of leadership for the good of others.
Look what the centurion thought about himself.
And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed (Luke 7:6-7).
He was humble. He didn’t take a high view of himself. He took a high view of those he was leading—whom he was also serving.
That’s a great leader. That’s a great servant-leader. That was someone who could be great in the Kingdom of God.
Don’t shy away from being a leader—if you’re called—lead.
Check your heart. Check your motive. Guard your heart. Guard your motive.
Serve. Serve. Serve.
And be a great servant-leader in the Kingdom of God.