Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest.
It is amazing, and embarrassing actually if we were honest, how self centered we are. We like to think of ourselves as important, great, extraordinary. I know I do. The disciples were no different. The conversation shifted quickly from Jesus' bloody death, to who would betray Him, to who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. While it is good to want to be good at something, to try our best, to attain a goal, this is not that. This is about power and authority and superiority.
But Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.
“Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken My place among you as the one who serves."
By Jesus' definition, the servant is the leader. As the New Life Translation puts it: But I am here with you as One Who cares for you. The leader doesn't boss the others. The leader CARES for others.
But the leadership lesson continues with another prediction:
“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from Me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”
Leadership has another aspect, one that Peter had to learn in order to lead well. He had to be broken. He had to fail and be restored. He needed to know what both felt like. He had to be broken. But that is not what he thought at first. He thought he had to be faithful:
Peter said, “Master, I’m ready for anything with you. I’d go to jail for you. I’d die for you!”
Jesus said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me.”
God alone is faithful. We are all doomed to fail eventually--that's why Jesus had to come and die for us! But Jesus has chosen us to be His servants, His witnesses, and in order to be compassionate and forgiving, first we need to be shown compassion and forgiveness.
Peter especially, was bold, so he tried and failed often. It was not the failure that marked him, it was his courage and the Lord restoring him that made him a leader.
Broken servant leaders are what You are looking for in Your Kingdom. Let me look for those kind of men to follow. And in the areas where I minister, influence and lead, help me to always serve with compassion, sharing my brokeness. Remind me that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. In serving I am like You. In failure, You shine as You restore me.