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Leadership *5 - Mark 10

Servant Leadership
Mark 10:32-45

Teaching Moments

1. While many discuss this text beginning with 10:35, I think it is important to begin with verse 32 because it sets the context. This pericope begins and ends on the life-giving sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His leadership is defined by his sacrifice on the cross—it is the essence of his servanthood.

2. Verses 32-34 also demonstrate how “dense” the desire of James and John is. In the very moments that Jesus is discussing his eventual death in Jerusalem, these two are make a request that is totally opposite of what Jesus himself will demonstrate on the cross.

3. I don’t think we should demonize James and John. They were not necessarily motivated by evil or maliciousness. But they desired something—their goal was inappropriate because of the means by which they thought it would be achieved.

4. Jesus’ cup and baptism are his suffering. If you truly want to be great, then you must be servant, and being servant means you must sacrifice yourself for others, and this means you must suffer. Are the disciples willing to be a servant like Jesus?

5. The argument that broke out among the disciples revealed the heart of competition, zeal, self-worth and ambition. Jesus addresses these attitudes in his contrast between Gentiles and his followers.

6. Jesus uses some fairly strong language here: “lord it over” vs. “slave to all.” Leaders are to avoid one and practice the other. Jesus himself has modeled this in his own ministry and in his death. Jesus did not come to exercise authority, but to be a servant for all.

7. Further, Jesus did not see himself as a leader as the one to be served, but he saw his leadership as exercised in his servanthood. This is servant-leadership rather than power/position/status authority. It is unlike the Gentiles and like God himself whom Jesus reveals in his submission to the servanthood of the cross.

Discussion Questions

1. Would you say that James and John were motivated by evil desires? What would motivate James and John to ask for what they did? How could the one who loved Jesus so much and whom Jesus loved so much ask for this?

2. What did the disciples really want when they asked to sit at the right hand of Jesus? Was this a power grab? Was it special recognition or special power or approval?

3. What did Jesus mean when he said, “You don’t know what you are asking.”

4. What are the “cup” and “the baptism” and the “glory” as each applies to Jesus? What is Jesus referring to when he says,” Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” How would this cup, baptism and glory apply to them?

5. What made the other disciples angry? What does this anger reveal about their hearts, desires and expectations? Does it say more about James/John than it does the disciples or vice versa?

6. How does Jesus use this anger to teach about the nature of leadership in the kingdom? What values did Jesus turn upside down when he answered this dispute among the disciples?

7. How does Jesus practice what he preaches? How is the death of Jesus the ultimate service for all? How does it demonstration leadership?

8. Thinking about some past elders or leaders in your experience, what “great” things do you remember about them? How did they behave as servant-leaders in your church? What positive role models have you seen in your own life from leaders?

9. Why do we so often think about the relationship between elders and the congregation in terms of authority, power, and status instead of servanthood? What has existed in our culture and in our church heritage that has generated these notions? [Indeed, it is not absent from the early church either because Jesus had to address it with his own disciples.]

10. How do we model servant-leadership in our own ministries, and in our relationships with each other? What does this text call us to be and do?


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