Weekend Reflections from White House
Servant Leadership: Jesus, paradoxical power and us.
1) In Sunday’s passage from the Gospel of Mark, we find Jesus, and his disciples, at a critical turning point dealing with power. The question is, is Jesus fully human, with all of our temptations, including those to power, temptations to oppressive domination over others? Jesus was tempted about the kind of leadership he was called to: Coercion? What am I going to get out of this? Calculation? (you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours!). Or does Jesus follow the way of Servant leadership that enters fully into the sufferings of our world and through this self emptying liberates it?
2) The disciples in today’s gospel face the same challenge of servant leadership; perhaps they represent us. We, too, are tempted in the same way whenever we might be in a position of authority or power over others: relationships with teachers, children, employees, friends, spouses, elderly, the poor, "the least" in our world.
3) Servant leadership challenges us individually, but also is a social challenge to our nation and church. How do we participate? How do we lead? Is service, especially service of the least, our goal? Or is it simply selfish calculation, or even worse, coercion and manipulation of others to get our way at any price?
4) The paradox is between power and weakness. How can Jesus lead, how can we be Christian leaders, if our primary strength is our self-emptying kenosis, our weakness? How? Only through Christian discipleship, following Jesus, our pioneer servant leader who climbs into our skins, emptying himself, and walks around in solidarity with us at our side in the journey of life.
-Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ