The Dispute about Greatness
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the
greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in
authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.
Reflection by Duke Yaguchi
I get it, that the leader becomes like the person who serves. I recall a new leadership
program that we were rolling out to managers at IBM in the nineties. Instead of the
typical reporting pyramid with higher levels of managers at the top, it placed the pyramid on its side. Customers were placed at the top and management was placed on the side to show they were there to support and help employees serve customers. So I get that leaders must serve.
But what does it mean that the greatest become like the youngest? If I recall my recent
time spent with grandsons one month and three months old, what attributes do they have? Well on a simple level, they have very simple needs. They want to be fed and they want to sleep. I'm not convinced that they are aware of the discomfort of a soiled diaper. So what do they do? They take action. When they are sleepy, they sleep, in most cases. When they are hungry they let everyone and anyone know in a not too subtle fashion. I'm not advocating that we all scream or cry for what we want, but there is something to be said about making your wants and needs known. My first wife believed that if I truly loved her, I would be in tune with her wants and needs and she shouldn't need to ask for anything. In her mind, she suffered silently waiting for some great awakening by me to know what she wanted. Polly and I do not suffer silently. In fact we do not suffer at all.
We often say what we want or need. It is much easier to live this way. In a way of
knowing what your partner wants and needs. I think this is what is being said in the scripture. The greatest of people express their wants and needs like a baby. And when we don't know to whom to tell our needs? That's simple, we tell God.
Dear God. Do you read minds? I don't know. Heck half of the time, I don't even know
what I'm thinking. When I pray, I'm intentionally making my wants and needs known to
you. Perhaps by saying them out loud to you, I'm making them more concrete to myself
as well. Help me be more baby-like and come to you with my simple needs. Amen.