Correcting Those You Influence
Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them have themselves called ‘Benefactors.’ It is not to be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you should become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. You are those who stood by me in my trials. I bestow on you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. And you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:24-30)
This is leadership gold.
Consider the scene. Jesus just served His disciples the last Lord’s Supper He would eat until He comes to make all things new. He is hours away from arrest, brutality, and crucifixion. He is in complete control, accurately predicting every minute situation. He’s obviously the greatest and most important person in the room.
In perhaps Jesus’ highest moment of need of receiving comfort and care, the disciples were arguing about which one of them was the greatest. How Jesus responds to their erroneous (to put it mildly) approach to life is something every leader can learn from.
First, He reveals what’s wrong.
When Jesus gets wind of their selfish argument, He doesn’t fly off the handle. He doesn’t go off in a mad and angry rage (BTW – this thought, in and of itself, is a lesson in leadership). He tells them how “non-kingdom” people do life. His point? Don’t be like everyone else. Don’t be like the Gentiles who don’t know anything of God or His ways. Jesus tells them they were acting like the world. He compares and contrasts, helping them see how their way of living (thinking) was contrary to the ways of their King and His kingdom.
Second, He tells them what’s right.
After helping them see what’s wrong, He helps them understand the right way. “Gentiles lord it over people. Don’t do that. You serve others.” In showing them the wrong way, He unveiled the healthy way. “The world tries to get from others. Not you. You are God’s. You are free to give so that others thrive.”
Finally, He affirms their position.
The most shocking words of all are the ones of affirmation. I hate to think what I would have said or done. I fear what my attitude would have been. I would have probably written them off. I would have dismissed them and/or gotten incredibly angry. Not Jesus. He promises them the kingdom! He promises them eternal jobs – judging God’s people right along with Him!
Leaders seeking to leverage their influence, while aiming to improve their organization/institution would do well to pay attention here. Jesus helped them understand what was wrong. He told them what was right. All the while, and this is HUGE, He demonstrated He was FOR THEM. He doesn’t just tell them what’s wrong. He also doesn’t just tell them what is right. He’s not just a cheerleader, either. He doesn’t always tell them how great they are. No. He very wisely employs all three.
Leaders, do your people know that you are for them? How?
Leaders, how do you respond when they get it wrong? Do you help them see? Do you lovingly explain what the proper response looks like?