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Daily Devotional Luke 10:38–42

The phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s. While working at AT&T, Greenleaf recognized that individuals and organizations ought to be known as servants who lead instead of leaders who happen to serve. He said the best test to determine if one is a true servant leader is asking, “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” In Luke 10, Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha. Today, we turn our attention to Martha.

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.

MARK 10:43

It is easy to read this passage and shake our heads in disappointment at Martha who, rather than sitting and listening to Jesus, was bustling around preparing dinner. We may think, “Oh, Martha, Martha, Martha. You’re not focusing on what truly matters. Always trying to impress...” But before we criticize Martha for her Southern-Bethany hospitality, take a closer look at where Luke places this account. Notice that it comes directly after Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable of going above and beyond to help one’s neighbor. Is Luke simply playing mind games with his readers? No.

Martha was fulfilling the lesson of the Good Samaritan (vv. 25–37). Like the Good Samaritan, she saw a need and was doing everything she could to meet it. The problem was that her efforts to make everything perfect outdid the need to serve, and the text says she was “distracted” (v. 40). Could she have simplified her preparations? Was her focus on the right thing? Servant leaders don’t serve just to complete a task. Instead, they serve, so that they and others will grow and become more like Christ.

>> What part of servant leadership challenges you? Do you struggle to see the needs of others? Or, in serving, do you focus more on perfection than meeting the actual need? Challenge yourself to find a way to serve someone selflessly today.

Pray with Us

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Help us when we need to buckle down on a task and to know when we should set it aside to meet another’s needs.

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