Mark 10:42-44, “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rules of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”
This week’s reading from Mark 10 dovetails beautifully with our elder selection process. In most organizations, the leadership model suggests that those at the top are those who bark the orders and call the shots. Leaders are often characterized by climbing the ladder and showcasing themselves. The highest positions are awarded to those who scratch and claw their way to the highest rung in the organization.
Jesus turns all of this upside down. He argues that the kingdom model of leadership reverses all human ideas of greatness. The greatest are not those who dictate orders from the top, but those who serve from the bottom up. If you aspire to be a leader, you must automatically aspire to be a servant, because service and leadership are synonymous. There is no leadership apart from service. Anyone who thinks he is a leader but refuses to serve is only fooling himself. Leaders who assert their authority are masquerading as leaders—but they do not possess the humility and servant heart necessary to qualify as true leaders. This attitude, of course, was modeled perfectly by Christ himself, ‘…who came not to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Dr. John Maxwell argues that there are five levels of leadership.
Level 1 is the Position level. People follow because they have to. This leader’s influence will never extend beyond the lines of his job description. This is where the disciples wanted to be.
Level 2 is the Permission level. People follow because they want to. With this leadership, people will follow beyond the leader’s stated authority. Only 15% of all leaders ever rise higher than this.
Level 3 is the Production level. People follow because of what the leader has done for the group. This is where success is sensed by most people. They like the leader and what he is doing. Problems are fixed with very little effort because of momentum. But when momentum kicks in, the leader is made to look better than he really is.
Level 4 is the Personal Development level. People follow because of what the leader has done for them. This is where long-range growth occurs. The leader’s commitment to developing leaders will insure ongoing growth to the organization and to people. These leaders are committed to training and discipling others.
Level 5 is the Personhood level. People follow because of who the leader is and what he represents. This step is reserved for leaders who have spent years growing people. Few make it to this level. Those who do are bigger than life. These leaders are not managers. They are servant leaders who create commitment because of their servant hearts.
As you consider those who are candidates to serve as elders, think through these five levels of leadership. No leader will be perfect, but those who lead well are those who are moving from the Position level to the Personhood level. Most of all, the greatest leaders in God’s church are those who are servant leaders!