What did Jesus ACTUALLY mean when He said, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest”?

The entitled leader thinks they have arrived, not realizing that arriving is an impossiblity.

Have you ever noticed the person that was dying to be seen? You know the one who wants nothing more in life than to be noticed? They are always seeking approval, and consequently they can’t wait to get to the point in leadership where they are the ones who get to give the approval. It’s the “leader” who wants to “arrive” more than anything else, and once they have “arrived” they will no doubt believe they deserve everything. This type of leader will always have a mentality of entitlement.

The entitled leader thinks they have arrived, not realizing that arriving is an impossibility.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had taken a place of authority, and hierarchy that proved how much better they were than everyone else. They had a certain privilege that exalted them far above everyone else, and it was this very system that Jesus decided to flip on its head.

In luke 22:26 Jesus is quoted saying, “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” In this passage, He was instructing his disciples that leadership isn’t about who has the most privilege, it’s not about getting the best seat, or being praised high above everyone else. True leadership is truly serving.

So here are a few keys to helping us take on this principle Jesus initiated.

  • Never make someone else feel small. We often think that if someone has a big head that it is our place to bring them down. This is a dangerous game to play. Instead of leading someone through shame and guilt, we should lead through love. Ask yourself if you have done this. If the answer is yes, let me encourage you to apologize and set the goal to never do that again. This is one of the things I love about my pastor. Even though he carries a great amount of authority and he is honored by many, he never makes people feel small and insignificant.
  • Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought. The moment we become to big to serve is the moment we are actually to small to lead. If you find yourself thinking that a job is below you, I would encourage you to do that job from time to time. Not to prove to anyone else that you are willing, but to remind yourself that you are not too big or to important for any task.
  • Love people. Love is not an emotion but a choice. We get to choose to love those around us. A couple things to remember about love is love can be bold. Love can be challenging. Love can be strong.
  • Know the people around you. To know someone is more than just knowing their name. Knowing someone is to know the details. Their spouse and kid(s) names. What is their story. One of the quickest ways to make someone feel small is to send the message that your story is the only one that matters. So, let’s do the opposite. Let’s begin to ask questions. Discover stories. You never know, that person you thought was below you may actually begin to teach you something!
  • Serve others. To serve others is to simply help them reach their dreams with the same intensity you use to reach yours. We should be building people up, but instead we often find ourselves tearing people down.

Now before some of us go down a dangerous road, let me stop us. Let’s stop thinking of the person we think needs to be reading this. If “so and so” could just get this they would be so much better. We often hear a challenge and instead of asking how we can improve, we assign it to someone else. We must first lead ourselves.


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