Pursue true greatness
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
- Mark 10:42-44
The desire for greatness doesn’t need to be squashed; it just needs to be appropriately directed. This is the big surprise for us in today’s passage.
You heard us. It’s okay to want to be great. It’s okay to want to be first. It’s okay to have ambition. This isn’t us saying this … this is coming from Jesus.
But Jesus always retains the ability to define words. He teaches us a new way to think about love and fatherhood and greatness. He doesn’t allow his disciples to receive his endorsement of greatness without clarifying exactly what he’s talking about. But does he twist the definition of greatness in order to endorse it?
If we think of greatness as inherently tied up with privilege or power or arrogance, Jesus’ move here will seem like a semantic trick. Why not just say: “Seek servanthood, not greatness”?
Jesus knows that there’s more to greatness than control or authority. People can get into positions of power by inheritance, by the prime mover advantage, by nepotism or simony, by luck. A person’s privilege is no measure of their greatness (a truth that humbles all of us who carry privilege in our skin, gender, education, or citizenship).
You’re more likely to find the truly great person by looking for someone serving. You’re more likely to grow into true greatness in your own life by looking for opportunities to serve.
Where do you have opportunities in your life to serve? In what ways do those opportunities highlight your character, compassion, and ability? In what ways does your serving shape you spiritually?