About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Or Be Served
In the 1970’s I was
part of what was known as the Discipleship Shepherding Movement.
I certainly enjoyed and benefited from the relationships I had
with my friends in the movement even though I didn’t embrace all that
was taught. For example, our
leaders taught us how we
should serve them, which seemed to me a little “self serving” on
their part. I didn’t feel
comfortable with this so I never asked such service from those I cared
One possible problem with
any ecclesiastical system is the tendency towards authoritarian rule of
leadership. Abuse of
ecclesiastical authority began to take place as early as the second
generation of Christians around 100 AD when submission to one leader
became popular as a way to bring needed unity in the church. Another
way abuse shows up is when
leadership demands service from those they are supposed to be serving.
In Mark 10:32 and
following Jesus pours out His heart and soul to the Twelve by telling
them that He’d be killed in just a few days. Have
you ever noticed how the Twelve responded to Jesus? I’m
guessing Jesus wasn’t at all impressed with James and John
“telling” Him that they
wanted Him “to
do for them whatever they asked”. (Mark 10:35) When the others heard
of James and John requesting to sit with Jesus in a place of authority
in His Kingdom, an argument broke out.
The rest of the Twelve felt entitled to a place of prominence as
We can’t blame James
and John too much here. They
haven’t been the only ones wanting a visible place of prominence in
After telling James and
John that they didn’t know what they were asking for, Jesus explains
that the Gentile rulers “lord it over
and exercise authority” over their subjects.
In short the Roman leaders were dictators who ruled with abusive
What Jesus says next is
vital to this discussion. He says, “not so with you”. (Mark 10:43)
These four words should set the tone for all our relationships in the
church. We’re simply not
to “lord it over others”, whether we’re a leader or an ordinary
Christian, assuming there’s such a thing as an ordinary Christian.
In Mark 10:44 Jesus tells
us that whoever wants to be great among us must be “slave to all”.
This means you get at the back of the after church lunch line,
even if you’re the pastor. You
don’t sneak out the back door after you preach your sermon to avoid
the people you’re caring for. You embrace all those in the church,
both rich and poor. You
mingle with people as if you’re one of them, not as one superior
This hit home to me years
ago when I had the privilege of speaking with David DuPlessis, one of
the world’s most well known and effective Pentecostal ministers in the
20th century. He
actually took 25 minutes of his valuable time to talk with me, a 21 year
old long haired Jesus Person. I’ve
always considered that to be an act of service and humility on his part.
In contrast an associate
pastor once told us from the pulpit that the senior pastor wasn’t
really a people person and that’s why he didn’t mingle with people
after the Sunday morning service.
That makes me wonder why he’s a pastor in the first place?
Some of our leaders in
the 1970’s may have demanded service and strict obedience, but don’t
get me wrong, we had some good servant pastors, and this problem
wasn’t exclusively ours. What
really makes a Christian a good Christian, and a leader a good leader is
his ability to lay down his life and serve the one’s Jesus has placed
before Him. Little else