Power in nature and human affairs almost always works opposite the model put forth by Christ. Power in the world is used as a tool to achieve one’s desires, even at the expense of others, and victims have no recourse except to obtain more power than the oppressor. A lion, for example, does not care about the feelings of sheep, and many human beings act exactly like lions. The difference is while a lion does not reason or act with malicious intent, human beings possess the knowledge of good and evil. As a consequence, human beings are morally responsible for their choices.
The Christian Model Of Servant-Leadership
We take it for granted, but Christianity is radical when viewed through a historical and empirical lens. Christ calls upon us to use our power, not to enrich and aggrandize ourselves in the model of the world, but to serve and give to the people in our lives.
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:42-45
The term “servant-leadership” refers to the idea that leaders should serve and prioritize the people they preside over. This term often pops up on resumes and in the business world. Servant-leadership is smiled upon because it’s ultimately what’s best for the business, its bottom line, and all its constituents.
Christ calls upon us to practice the servant-leadership model, not just at work to get ahead in a bottom-line industry, but wherever we are, even in the absence of human accountability, because it’s the right thing to do. Whether or not we occupy traditional leadership roles in society, we all have the power to do good or evil in the lives of those around us.
Today, I’m grateful that Christ revolutionized our understanding of power. I think the world is better off because of it. I think I’m a better person in training because of it.
In the long run, we as people tend to move toward our ideals. Today, if we hold Christ’s ideal of power in the interest of others as our own, using his life as retold in the Gospels as our model, I have no doubt our lives and the world will be better for it.
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’Matthew 25:37-40
For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.