Matthew 20:26 “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”
Jesus turned the definition of greatness on its head when he said the greatest would be the servant. Not the person with the top position, not the highest skilled athlete, not the one whose face graces the most magazine covers. The creator of the universe says the mark of true greatness lies in serving.
Why? What’s the big deal about serving?
When we serve others, we open a window to give them a glimpse of the God who “took the nature of a servant” when he walked on the earth (Philippians 4:7). We help what had been a hazy picture of God come into focus. Eugene Peterson writes that our whole purpose in life involves serving others because when we serve, “we represent to one another the address of God.” In other words, we lead people to the place where he lives—in us!
All this…when we serve someone.
No one had a clearer picture of servanthood demonstrated to them than the disciples. Day in and day out they observed how Jesus lived to advance his Father’s agenda, never his own. Even as thoughts of his pending crucifixion weighed heavily on his mind, he still served.
The disciples didn’t get it.
When the mother of James and John asked Jesus if he would place her boys on his right and left after he entered his kingdom, the other disciples were “indignant.” After all this time with Jesus, they were still jockeying for position. His response laser-beamed right into the heart of the issue. Place and position are man-centered trappings that have nothing to do with what it means to be great (Matthew 20:24-28).
Let’s get it.
If we want to learn the secret of greatness, we have to first learn what it’s not. We let the culture’s definitions slip away and take seriously the Lord’s description. We decide to serve his agenda before our own. It might mean being interrupted by a call from “one of the least of these.” It might mean intentionally putting our issues aside in order to meet another’s need. It might mean washing some smelly feet.
God calls you and me to walk in greatness. Greatness defined by serving. So what’s holding us back?