Friday, August 7, 2015


Welcome Back to Middle-Earth for the Summer!

As a summer break for me and, I hope, a fun treat for you, I'm going to spend some time here excerpting from my last book, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-earth.

Helping someone else to the top.

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World
by Jill Richardson

(GANDALF) Part 2

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
“What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them.
“Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them,“You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20.20-28).

What does James’ and John’s mom want? Why do you think she wants it? Do James and John agree with this request? How do you know? 

Why are the other disciples mad when they hear about this? 

How does Jesus say people in power usually act? Why do you think they act like this? 

Are you ever tempted to let people “see” that you’re a leader? Do you ever want to show off some position you have? Why? How does it make you feel? 

How do servants and slaves act? What is their job? What do you suppose they typically do in a day? 

Church people have created a name for the kind of leader Jesus is talking about here: a servant leader. What exactly is that? Well, it’s what He says: someone “in charge” who chooses not to act like an overbearing jerk but instead asks other people, “How can I help you?” “How can I make your job better?” “How can I make sure you get credit for a job well done?”

That’s the opposite of how we think. We think we have to make ourselves look good. We think if we don’t make it clear who’s in charge, no one will give us the credit we deserve. We think like the other ten disciples: “Hey! Who do James and John think they are to try to get top spot?”

Letting someone else shine brighter.
Do you know that Jesus, who, let’s face it, clearly has that top spot by a landslide, told His disciples they would do greater things than He did? He didn’t even try to keep all the glory to himself. He wanted it shared around. He wanted those who He taught to be able to shine brighter than He did. Why? Because the “big picture” mattered a lot more to Him than who got the credit. The point was to make sure as many people as possible heard about being saved and living for God. Jesus didn’t care who got the credit for that happening!

Gandalf knows that the big picture matters more than anything. Yes, the smaller picture of returning the Lonely Mountain to its rightful owners has to happen first. The reason, though, is that it’s part of the giant picture of returning all of Middle Earth to its rightful goodness. The dwarves’ adventure is part of the story, but it’s not the story. Individual glory has to take second place. (Thorin and Boromir never quite grasped that... and they died. A lesson to be learned there, I think.)

The best way to make any “big picture” plan happen, as both Gandalf and Jesus know, is to equip and encourage as many people as possible to do the job well, not to boss people around and always be in charge. Sometimes, we need to step out of the way and let other people do it. That might even mean being happy when someone else becomes the hero in the end.


If you were in charge of a group, what would you do to act like a servant? How do you think it would work?

Write down a place where you are a leader, whether it’s in an official position of leadership or as a role model to someone. List some things you can do to become more like Jesus tells us to be and less like everyone expects us to be.
_________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ 

Bonus Question: What do you think it would look like if world leaders tried this radical idea?

Words to remember

“. . . not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 
(1 Peter 5:3)

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World is a devotional using twenty J.R.R. Tolkien characters. It looks at what makes those characters who they are, where Scripture talks about the same kinds of people, and what it all means to a young person today. Interactive application and fun side additions included!  

 If you would like to find the book for yourself or a teen/young adult you love, you can purchase it here:

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