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Leadership, Servant


A significant contribution of Jesus to humanity is a revised concept of leadership in the religious and secular world. He taught this against the background of the Jewish and pagan leaders of the time. About the Scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus said, “Do not follow their example. For they preach, but they do not practise what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. … The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt 23:3- 12). Referring to the gentile leaders, Jesus taught his disciples, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:25- 28). We must follow Jesus, who is “meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29).

Jesus exemplified servant leadership by washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. Based on what he had learned from Jesus, Peter the first pope advised his fellow presbyters, “Tend the flock of God in your midst, [overseeing] not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Pet 5:2-4). This advice applies to all Christians in their service to their family, at their workplace, and in society in general.


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