James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at
your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or
be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism
with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but
to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those
for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and
John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as
their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes
to become great among you must be your servant, and
whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but
to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark
10:35 - 45 (NRSV)
An acquaintance in seminary had finished all his studies and was waiting for a call from a church to come and serve as their minister. He didn’t know the name of the church, or where in the universe it was located (his resume’ was all over the southeastern U.S.); he simply knew that the weekly attendance for his new place of service would not be less than 600. That was in 1982, and, for all I know, he’s still waiting on that call.
James and John had visions of grandeur. They knew Jesus was the incarnation of almighty God, and they wanted-in on the power. Jesus asked them if they thought themselves up to the task; to which they replied they were more than ready. Jesus knew the sons of Zebedee didn’t have a clue about God’s plans, so he just tabled their motion by telling them it was in God’s hands who would be vice-presidents of the world.
When the other disciples heard about this conversation they went off the jealousy chart! Jesus had a full-blown sibling spat on his hands, so he called them all together for an introductory lesson on kingdom authority.
The takeaway thought of Jesus’ teaching that day was that true leadership is determined by serving, and genuine greatness is characterized by humility.
What “call” are you waiting for?