Leading like a Blind Beggar

Sam Rainer

April 4, 2011

Mark presents an unusual juxtaposition in his gospel. At the end of chapter 10, two scenes emerge. In one, James and John ask Jesus for a place with him in glory. In the other, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus asks for a moment of Jesus’ time.

James, John, and Bartimaeus are all adamant concerning their requests of Jesus. They all recognize the authority of Jesus. They all know he has something to offer. But the sons of Zebedee and Bartimaeus are worlds apart.

James and John are caught in the rat race. They grab at the opportunity to gain authority. They ask Jesus for a piece of his glory. They beg for power. Jesus tells them it’s a death trap.

In the second picture, Bartimaeus cries out for mercy. He begs to see the unseen.

Between these two scenes Jesus calls for servants. He shows how true leaders serve first. Jesus serves first by giving his life as a ransom for many. It’s a reminder that leaders—specifically pastors—should not need authority to lead.

Can you lead your church without power? Can you shepherd without authority? Undeniably, scripture gives pastors authority to lead in the church, and the church should respect the pastoral role. But if you must have power (or worse, if you demand it), then look to Bartimaeus for a better leadership example.

He has courage. He throws off his only possession to beg Jesus for mercy. He cries out to Christ, not for authority, but for healing. His only concern is to see the Way. He cares nothing for power. He is willing to give everything up for one moment with Jesus.

Jesus shows Bartimaeus the way. And with his new vision, he follows Jesus down the road. I imagine a few people follow after Jesus right behind Bartimaeus. Jesus has his sight set on the cross. The blind beggar has his sight on Jesus.

You do not need authority to lead. Power is not a prerequisite for pastoring. Stop demanding it and start serving.

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