Jesus asked James and John, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38). Jesus also said it must be enough for a disciple to be like his master. If they called Jesus a devil, “how much more will they malign” his disciples? (Matthew 10:25). Because Jesus was the perfect embodiment of sacrificial leadership, and paid a high price to lead us back to the Father, those who lead followers of Jesus are also asked to make personal sacrifice.
Some have said that scars are the true marks of Christianity. After his resurrection, the only things Jesus took pains to show to others were the wounds on his hands and his side. (John 20:27). Paul said “From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17).
In truth, following Jesus, and especially leading others in following Jesus, takes its toll. Hot days. Sleepless nights. Tears with and for the broken-hearted. Rejection by the unwilling. Criticism by the well-meaning. Serving others is hard. Serving others by leading them is even harder. But when spiritual fruit is born – when faith grows and commitment deepens – the rewards are unlike anything else. This is why Paul said “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of know Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ . . . that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings.” (Philippians 3:8, 10). Sharing in the sacrifices of Jesus brings the greatest rewards!