GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
In Search Of Greatness
By Keith L. Estes
The disciples of Jesus believed that He would set up an immediate earthly kingdom and were desirous to obtain the highest position for themselves. They were so concerned that they openly argued with one another on which one should be the greatest.
The study Bible asks the question- is it wrong to desire greatness- to be a great salesperson, a great athlete, a great scholar, or a great performer? Shouldn't we all seek excellence in what we do? Does God not want us to experience great achievements? Jesus words to the disciples touch on this complex issue. As He did so often, the Lord challenged the motives of His followers rather than their desires. He realized that they wanted greatness for its own sake, in order to lord it over others. They sought position and power as means to personal gain, not service to others.
Let's follow the scripture on this theme: "And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me; for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at table, or he that serveth.
Christ asks us to take the posture of the servant- to genuinely concern ourselves with the rights, the needs, and the welfare of those we lead. Christ Himself has provided the example of true servant leadership: not to be served, but to serve and to give.
There is the story of two groups of people who had died and found themselves in separate rooms in eternity. Both groups found themselves with very long arms and no elbows. In the first room they were very sad, distraught, and tearful because they said they would certainly starve because, without elbows, they were unable to bring the food to their mouth. In the second room there was laughing, rejoicing and singing as they sat across the table from one another and fed each other.
Oswald Chambers writes: “If you are sensitive to God’s way, your message as His servant will be merciless and insistent, cutting to the very root. Otherwise, there will be no healing. We must drive the message home so forcefully that a person cannot possibly hide, but must apply its truth. Then hold high the standard of Jesus for their lives.”
The world's system of leadership is very different from the Kingdom's. Worldly leaders are often selfish and arrogant as they claw their way to the top. But among Christians, the leader is to be the one who serves best. There are different styles of leadership-some lead through public speaking, some through administering, some through relationships-but all leaders need a servant's heart. The search for greatness is found in being a servant.
The disciples were arguing among themselves who would be the greatest and Jesus answered their question by reminding them "That if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." However, as a postscript, He assured His disciples that because they had remained loyal to Him that they would surely receive a kingdom and that they would eat and drink at His table and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
References: Luke 9: 46-48, 22: 24-30. The Holy Bible