So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.” John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. John 3:26-30
Before Jesus began His ministry at age 30, John the Baptist was preparing the way for Him by telling people to repent. He was baptizing people, and he had followers. In the scripture above, we see some of John’s followers reporting to him that people were starting to go over to Jesus’ “side,” instead of theirs. Should they do something about it? John responded no…this is how it should be. In another translation, John said that Jesus must increase while he decreases.
John was a leader who had an assignment – to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. He did his assignment very well He also provided a great example of humble leadership for us to follow.
When we are serving in the church and in ministry, like John the Baptist, we are also making a way for people to be able to know Jesus. Part of that often, if we are lucky, involves leading and discipling people to become leaders themselves. I LOVE encouraging people to serve in the church, and I always nudge people to go a little bit farther than they think they can go. Why do I do this? Because someone did this for me. I worked with a pastor who listened to my ideas and then encouraged me to carry them out. I got to see how far my dreams could go, and I learned that they will go as far as I can take them. Sometimes I forget this — we all do.
At times when I am encouraging people to serve, they want to grow even farther than I can go – and this is GREAT! It makes me very happy when someone I help passes me up on the way to the top. It means I was a good teacher and leader. Sometimes good leadership means getting out of the way. As leaders and teachers, we should never hold anyone back from fulfilling their dreams. Good leaders are merely servants. Jesus modeled this for us when He washed the feet of His disciples.
Our aim should not be to be on top, but rather to allow the people we lead to reach their best. And when that happens, we will know that we have led with excellence.