29th Sunday in Ordinary Time reflection by Mary Schwarz
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that His way of “ruling” is nothing like the way they’ve known. He tells them: “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” What kind of person in leadership, with power over others, does not “lord” it over them and make them “feel” their authority? The kind of person Jesus is, the kind of person Jesus calls us to be.
Jesus teaches us, not just through what He said, but above all through His life, what it means to be a servant leader. Even in the corporate world, the notion of “servant leadership” (where the leader is known for her compassion, empathy, humility and ability to let others shine) has been shown to be most “effective” in human organizations. And Jesus teaches us this lesson, even though He was the most powerful man that ever lived! He had every “right” to make us know how powerful and great He was. And yet He washed His disciples feet, He had pity on the crowds who were lost like sheep without a shepherd, and He let Himself be arrested and put to death for the crime of teaching us love.
By definition, a leader is anyone who has influence over others, so this means you are a leader – no matter how small that influence feels. How does Jesus’ example of laying down His life and lifting others up inspire me to be a servant leader too?