In Matthew chapter 20, the mother of James and John asks Jesus to put her two sons next to him in the kingdom. Jesus of course, explains that the Father has authority over those positions. I always liked this answer because it might mean we’re in the running! Somebody will be there! Jesus wouldn’t guarantee it to James and John because it was yet to be determined down through the ages. Maybe I have a shot! Maybe you have a shot!

But then Jesus corrects the band of disciples in thinking like this. It’s not about being the greatest that matters; it’s about being the least. He’d already taught them that the last shall be first and the first shall be last, but somehow they still didn’t get the picture. That’s how the world looks at greatness! But, His followers should see it a lot differently. He repeats the idea in verse 26 when he says that it shouldn’t be like the world among you, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.”

The world celebrates the successful people in our society, the beautiful, the rich, the powerful, the out-in-front, get-it-done individual. Jesus truly takes a totally different perspective on greatness. He reminds us, as Morgan points out, “that God’s leaders are not so very concerned about getting themselves out of messes, building their own empires, or enhancing their own reputations. Their concern is for the welfare of God’s people and for His kingdom.”

When a group of European pastors came to one of D. L. Moody’s conferences, they set their shoes outside their dorm room doors to be cleaned by the night servants. But the dorms didn’t have night servants to perform this task. When Moody went back to his room late at night and saw all the shoes, he recruited help from some students. But his request was met with only silence and pious excuses. Moody returned to the dorm, gathered up the shoes, and, alone in his room, the world’s only famous evangelist began to clean and polish the shoes.”

“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” Matthew 20:26