Who should really be first?
“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 20:26-28
A few years ago, the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl. They were led by quarterback Peyton Manning, one of my favorite football players. I watched that game in its entirety, and yet I sit here today unable to recall who they played in the championship. This is common in our society—we love, admire, and remember winners. Yet those that have a great season and come very close to a championship will often fade from our memory.
Thus, growing up in this world fosters a mindset that one must succeed to have any real value. The danger in this is that often relationships, friendships, and any connection with other people can become manipulated for the purpose of only advancing our personal agenda. This is not something new; it was very prevalent even in the days of Christ, so they must have been surprised when Jesus said the words in today’s scripture verses. Jesus’ words describe leadership from a different perspective. Instead of trying to use people and resources around us to advance our agenda, we are to serve others. The real value in one’s life is not found in what they personally accomplish but in what they do for others. Maybe you have seen the bumper sticker that says “Real Men Love Jesus.” In these verses, Jesus is saying, “Real Leaders Serve Others.” Jesus’ mission was to serve others and to give His life away. The real leader has a servant’s heart and appreciates the value of others, realizing that leadership means not being above any job. There is no truer leader than one who serves others.
Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow is another one of my favorite football players. During Spring break of his junior year in college, he could have traveled around America with speaking engagements, news media, and enormous crowds of fans gathering to see him. Do you know what Tim chose to do instead? He spent his break in the Philippines working with children. There was no one there that knew who he was, that would cheer for him as he arrived, and he would be no one’s hero as a sports icon. When asked why he did it, he replied, “I could spend my Spring break hanging out and having fun, or I could spend my Spring break ministering to orphans, ministering to people in the hospital who only have a few weeks to live…. and I think, ‘What really matters?’”
Anyone who desires for their life to really be meaningful must understand that every moment spent building someone else up to see the greatness that they can be, and the value that they are to God, is a moment spent building a greater world. This is the example Jesus was to us. As the passage says, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Prayer: Jesus, please set us free from the bondage of self-centeredness. Help us to realize the great value in serving others and to discover the joy that it brings into our lives. May we follow Your example of serving, and in doing so, discover real fulfillment in life. In Your precious name we pray, Amen.
Over the next 10 days, you will be receiving the devotionals that the pastors of Brookwood Church have prepared for ServeFest 2010. ServeFest is a community outreach that will take place on Saturday, November 20, 2010 in Greenville County, South Carolina. If you would like to participate in ServeFest, register here: brookwoodchurch.org/servefest
The devotionals following the Beatitudes series will resume on November 24, 2010.