KEY THOT: Greatness in the kingdom is unlike the world’s. The world’s understanding of greatness is about possessing power and authority to lord over others, expecting to be served rather than to serve. But the great ones in the kingdom are those without position and power. The great ones are motivated by the passion to serve and have adopted the position of the slave of all, without position and power. Service always put us in a position of disadvantage and loss because it’s not about getting but giving--giving away our rights and privileges. Jesus himself demonstrated what true greatness is: “”For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” As the Son of Man who was destined for glory, nevertheless, Jesus took on the form of a bond-servant to become the slave of all. And He made the ultimate sacrifice of service—giving his life away as a ransom payment for sin to secure our freedom from sin and Satan.
Taking on the position of a servant and slave is often reflected by an indifference to status and rank in our institution or organization. But we often derive our sense of significance from the title and rank we carry within an institution or organization. We know we are taking our titles too seriously when we get offended by people who do not show us due deference and respect that our rank and title deserve. Kingdom leadership on the other hand is indifferent to such disrespectful treatment because as servants, we shouldn't expect to be treated with deference and honor. Indeed, Jesus said a servant should expect no gratitude and thanks when he serves others because that is just doing his duty: “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty'" (Luke 17:7-10).
True significance in God’s kingdom is not measured by our position and power. It’s about service and measured by how many lives we have touched and transformed through our work and ministry. The truly “great ones” are servants—not serving upward only (to the “bosses”) but more importantly serving downward towards the rank and file. Servant-leaders expect no special treatment or deference because of our position because we are just servants. When we have done everything—including giving our lives as the ultimate sacrifice—we haven't done anything heroic—we are just doing our duty.
But I consider service to the King of kings a privilege, not just a duty. To serve the rank-and-file and the marginalized as Jesus did brings joy that only the Holy Spirit can impart. When we serve like Jesus, offering our lives money, time, energy and even our lives to help others find freedom from sin and demonic bondages, we will receive a joy that cannot be measured in monetary terms. Even Jesus who is the founder and perfecter of our faith “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb 12:2).
So, leadership is less about getting the rights and privileges for ourselves (like James and John), but more about giving away our rights and privileges (like Jesus) so that others may be have the opportunities to become what God has always wanted them to be—His children.
Father, what a privilege and joy to be a servant of all—to focus on serving others instead of ourselves. May You grant us more grace to be like Jesus, who gave his life as a ransom for many. Amen.