A few months ago when I was speaking at a Youthwork Conference in Sydney, Australia for Youthworks Outdoors, I got a chance to do something that I’ve never had the opportunity to do… go sailing. I was a bit nervous because I knew that I was probably the least experienced person in the boat, and knowing Aussies they’d make me step up and get some enjoyment of watching me get out of my comfort zone. So, in true form, they gave me the tiller (which is a long stick that controls the rudder), and away we went. I was like a kid… couldn’t take the smile off of my face.
The wind would be steady at times, and then other times would surprise us with big gusts… When a gust would come up, I’d have to pull the tiller toward me to keep from capsizing. The boat would lean hard… all of my shipmates were below me skimming the waves while I sat on the high side, trying to hold the boat from tipping too far. One thing I quickly learned was how important it was to keep my eye on the target where we were going. It was really easy to freak out when the boat tilted up and people on the bottom were getting water splashed on them… but my job was to keep the boat on course… the best way to do that was to keep my eye on the target on shore where I was headed.
Sailing with Sam
Probably the thing I remember most about this experience was the attitude and demeanor of our sailing guide, Sam. He was a model of servant leadership. Although he was extremely skilled far beyond anyone else in the estuary around us, he displayed patience and genuinely displayed joy as we discovered some new skills.
Jesus often had to remind his disciples to keep their eye on the target of servant leadership as well. Like Sam modeled for me, Jesus reminded his disciples that true greatness is to strive for last place and be the servant of all. I don’t know about you, but when I am around leaders with that kind of servant’s heart, I am willing to risk more, and by risking more, I discover that I can do things that I never had the confidence to try. You may not get a chance to sail with Sam like I did, but I wrote up a brief list of reflection questions from Mark 9:33-37 that might help you become more intentional in your servant hood. I wrote these questions for a group of high schoolers that I led on a backpacking trip near Steamboat, Colorado a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d share them for you to use personally or with a group that you might be leading toward greater servanthood.
“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
- According to the passage, what were the disciples arguing about on the road?
- What are some ways Jesus defined greatness in this story?
- Describe how Jesus illustrated greatness in how he related to a child?
- In what ways do you at times put others down to make yourself feel more powerful?
- How does the way we treat those who are younger or weaker than us reveal how mature and strong we are in God’s eyes? (Especially younger siblings)
- In verse 35 Jesus called his disciples to be the very last and a servants of all. In your life back at home what are some ways you might practice this? What is stopping you from living like this?
Camp fire or Meal Question for H.S. Kids: What do you want to be remembered for when you graduate High School? What would you want someone to write in your yearbook about you?
Camp fire or Meal Question for Adults: What do you want your kids to remember about you when you are gone? What would you want someone to write in your obituary?