“Popular Positions of Potential Power”
Mark 10:35-45

11 years ago I had just begun my first career. I was fresh out of university and entering the full-time workforce for the very first time. Bev and I, also newlyweds at the time had also moved from Nova Scotia to Ottawa to begin this new chapter in our lives.

The company that hired me was in the middle of a period of exponential growth. In fact, a year earlier it had flown me, and hundreds of other students to Ottawa to be wined and dined as part of a huge job fair. They put us up in hotel rooms, paid for all of our expenses, it was quite an impressive attempt to draw us in.

This company was on its way to being a huge impact in the Canadian financial sector. It was Canada’s largest technological research and development company. It seemed to be in the news each and every day as people were smitten with this company pulling in record profits quarter after quarter.

It seemed nothing could stop it. It began buying other companies to further extend it’s influence in the technology market. Big companies too. It was on top of the world, fighting with other huge companies for top spot in the technology provider business. At it’s peak, it had over 100,000 employees worldwide, including over 30,000 in Canada. The company was giving away leases on $75,000 sport cars to lucky employees, bonuses and stock options were being given out like candy on Hallowe’en.

Then something happened. The bubble popped. Technology was rocked by scandals in other companies, money began to dry up as less product was being sold. Layoffs began.

My role in the company had changed dramatically over the 5 years I worked there. I began working on the phone lines of the support helpline. It was my job to make sure those who designed these great products were able to work. To make sure their computers and servers were in good working order.

Three years later, I was a team leader, overseeing a team of seven employees under my care. I was now working closely with other managers and clients to make sure we were able to meet the growth they were experiencing in their departments. I was not only managing people, I was also managing large infrastructure projects.

But after the bubble burst, my job changed again. Friends and co-workers disappeared. Where there was once the buzz of voices were now silent, empty desks. Thousands were being laid off at a time. I was no longer in charge of building up the infrastructure, but now I was in charge of cleaning up the excess. My goal now was to use what we had most efficiently and get rid of the rest. If it wasn’t needed, and could save the company money, get rid of it.

The company now is just a shell. The once mighty and powerful darling of the tech world no longer exists. It has sold off almost all it’s assets and employees to other companies.

A company once considered one of the most powerful in the world has been reduced to dust. On its way down, it showed signs of corruption at the top. CEO’s and CFO’s were fired due to accounting scandals. The huge acquisitions it made over the years were painful, expensive reminders of how this company, in its quest to be a global power in all things internet related failed.

Power can be a scary thing if not treated with respect and used carefully.

James and John came to Jesus asking for a privileged position at the Heavenly table of God. They wanted to sit in positions of power. Places where they could be seen to have influence and strength over others.

Jesus turns this around on them. Jesus reminds them of the Gentiles who are ruled over by others and how miserable their lives are because of it.

The other disciples are upset at James and John for making such a request. They are upset that these two have tried to raise themselves up over the rest of the disciples. Into positions they feel maybe they should have.

But it doesn’t work that way. Jesus tells them no one is supposed to Lord themselves over someone else. You want to be the greatest? Go and serve someone else. “Whoever wishes to become great among you, must be your servant.”

This is how Jesus lived. Jesus never sought fame and power. Jesus turned the devil away when he was offered lordship over all the nations. Jesus simply served. By serving others, he became the greatest.

God himself, came to earth not to rule, but to serve. Adam and Eve were servants. Their job in the Garden of Eden was to take care of the plants and animals.

Jesus came to show us the way. Jesus this morning tells us he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

This world encourages us to seek positions of power. To make more money, to get promotions, to work towards moving up in companies so we can have people do the work for us.

Jesus came to serve.

This world teaches us we need to be great and wonderful and powerful so people will reward us.

Jesus came and was humble.

The world teaches us we need to work hard so we can move out of our misery and into rich estates so we can mingle with the elite.

Jesus came and walked with the outcasts.

The world has also shown us that great wealth comes at a huge cost. People get greedy and corrupt, they build up themselves and their companies at the expense of all else, especially people. The world suffers greatly as a result. But who suffers, is it those who caused it? No! It’s those who were the people that got run over by those who were busy getting to the top and causing the problems.

Jesus is a new way. The real way. They way it is supposed to be. They way God planned it.

People walking with each other. Sharing with each other. Caring for each other.

Power can be a bad thing. I think of all my friends who worked with me. Many of whom have found new work in other companies. But some of them took a long time to find work. They struggled through years of doubt and uncertainty. Once seen as superstars because they worked for a great and powerful company, they struggled for months and years just to find something to pay the bills. Bouncing from job to job.

Jesus, the most powerful man/God to walk this earth, never showed it. Even in his own death he could have simply said a word and it all would have been over. But Jesus came to show us how to live a life following him.

Jesus was a servant to the very end. On the cross he was a sacrifice so that we may live. He rose again to show us death is not the final end. Death is just the part we must take to get to eternal life with God. A life we receive through Jesus Christ.

Power is not the answer. Great leaders know they are only as successful as those who follow. Great leaders know how to meet the needs of those they are leading, by supporting them and making sure they have all they need to succeed in work and in life.

Jesus is a true leader. He never held himself above anyone else. He met the needs of those who came to him. And when he left, he sent us a gift in the Holy Spirit to walk with us in our days. A constant companion which connects us with our loving God.

Where does your power come from? Who is your leader? How do you lead others?