But don't act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be everyone's slave. (Mark 10:43, 44 CEV)
“ME FIRST, me first!” That was our battle cry across the schoolyard when we were kids. Everyplace our teachers lined us up whether it was to pile onto a school bus, mob the cafeteria or attack the jungle gym, first was the only place that mattered. First was our greatest source of joy. We carried that concept from the schoolyard right into adulthood.
Paul the Apostle is a great Bible hero. He’s remembered as the greatest missionary in the early church. But Paul didn't derive joy from titles or being great. His letter to the Philippians reveals his heart. He introduces himself and Timothy, his pupil and son in the faith, as fellow bondservants; slaves. This action places them on equal ground as servants. For Paul, joy comes from being a servant to all, even when you’re the leader.
Are we making it our mission to put others first? Think about the most joyful people you know. Are they stepping on others to get to the top? The most satisfied, content, and joyful people we know are those who’ve abandoned everything to make life better for someone else. The college student who gave up his summer to serve Haiti’s earthquake victims comes to mind. We’re reminded of the mom who organized the fund raiser for another family’s mountain of hospital bills, or the well-to-do grandmother who mentors inner-city children at an after school program.
Joy is the natural by-product and expression of a servant relationship with Jesus Christ. When rank and title are stripped away, joy remains as our most valuable commodity and declaration of Christ.
How has someone’s service to you impacted your life?
How can you follow that example and serve someone else sacrificially?