In yesterday’s post we saw how James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, came with their mother to Jesus in Mark 10 asking Him to give them whatever they asked of Him. Their specific request was to have the highest positions of honor when He would establish His kingdom. What makes the timing of their request so amazing is that in the verses right before that Jesus had just told the disciples that He would be handed over to His enemies, mocked, scourged, spit upon and killed. Somehow the dialogue is painstakingly inappropriate.
Jesus: “Guys, I’m going to die!”
James and John: “That’s nice. Hey, by the way, can we have the highest positions of honor when you establish Your kingdom?”
It’s like Jesus’ words passed right over their heads or in one ear and right out the other. Did they not hear what Jesus said? It appears to me that they were so focused on their own agenda that they missed what Jesus was trying to convey to them.
But truth be told, I can often be like James and John. I am an agenda driven guy and sometimes my zeal to accomplish my agenda keeps me from really listening to what people are trying to communicate to me. Let me give you an example.
In the first church I pastored back in Indiana I would meet with two of my Elders every Wednesday over the lunch hour for prayer together. Man, I loved those guys and really grew close to them. I asked them to evaluate my ministry as their pastor. One of the things they told me was that people saw me as somewhat unapproachable. They gave me a “for instance.”
They said that on Sunday mornings I was so focused on my agenda of being sure that all the details were in place and that everyone knew who they were to hand the microphone off to in the service that I would blow right by people with nothing but a passing “Good morning!” They told me that people wanted to share with me and wanted to communicate with me as their pastor, but my focus was on one thing – accomplishing my agenda.
I wonder how many times, like James and John, I have missed something very important someone tried to communicate to me because I was too consumed with my agenda to hear what was being said to me. Agendas can be good… but never as good as listening! More about this story in Mark 10 tomorrow!