(Part 1 – Based on the message by Stovall Weems at ARC’s All-Access 2013 Conference)
“We want to sit beside you, Jesus.”
James and John were two brothers, disciples who asked Jesus this favor. “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.” (Mark 10:35)
In the conversation that follows, Jesus gives them three things I believe are for every pastor and leader who wants God’s favor in their life and ministry. First, Jesus talks about pain.
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?”
“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.
We need to learn to respond to pain well. It is our response to pain that will determine how much growth God can give us. The truth of the matter is that most suffering people go through is due to suffering incorrectly. God designed everything for our good, so no matter what comes our way, whether it seems good or bad, if we’ll respond correctly to it, God will provide growth through it for us.
Second, Jesus talks about calling.
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.”
We need to learn how to stay in our calling. Jesus told them he wasn’t the one to say who is going to sit on his left or right. He knew it wasn’t his calling to assign those seats. If we don’t know how to stay in our calling, we’ll end up doing things that we are gifted for, but not called to.
Third, Jesus talks about true leadership.
When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 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. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 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.”
Did you ever notice that Jesus identifies himself first as a servant? He doesn’t identify himself as a leader first. Ask yourself this: Do you see yourself as a leader who serves, or as a servant who has been given the opportunity to lead? There is a tremendous difference between the two. If you see yourself as a leader who serves, you’ll eventually find your identity wrapped up in what you do rather than in who you are in Christ.
In essence, Jesus tells James and John, “Hey guys, this is a great thing you’re asking, but you need to understand that in this walk of faith and ministry and leadership will be filled with constant processing of pain, of your calling, and of your identity.”
We read a lot and hear a lot about “best practices” and these certainly are useful, but leadership is much more than employing best practices. We need to handle pain well, stay in our calling, and know our identity in Christ. We have to understand the importance of living well.
June 14 2014