Greatest Doesn’t Necessarily Mean What You Think It Means

Sports fans like to argue about who the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) is, regardless of the sport. Is it Michael or LeBron? Nicklaus or Tiger? Ali or Tyson? Who is the Greatest Of All Time? In sports, it’s kinda fun to argue about who the Greatest is… But consider this, when it comes to true greatness: Our society has many standards, and most of them are wrong. We celebrate people for their looks, their money, or their accomplishments. Perhaps there is another standard that matters even more…

The News Nobody Understood

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:19-20, NIV)

It had to be a weird conversation for the disciples, hearing Christ talk about his body and his blood over dinner as they reclined at table. They were still somewhat giddy over the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Hosannas were still ringing in their ears, and yet Jesus was now telling them that one of them would betray him. He went on to say he was going to die, and that God was going to make a new covenant with Israel. The disciples had to be wondering, “Wait, what?!”

How to be the GOAT

This was indeed an amazing statement, and yet it only registered on them for about a minute. They were so used to thinking what their culture thought, they just didn’t get it. The disciples first speculated about which of them would betray their master, and then Luke 22:24-26 says, “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them… But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like… the one who serves.”

greatest

It’s Easier Than You Think to Miss the Boat

Centuries later, it’s easy to think that the disciples must have been incredibly dense not to get it, but like all of us they were focused on “what’s in it for me?”, and “what happens next?” (Before you judge them too harshly, have you ever missed a couple of points in a sermon because you were thinking about lunch after church, or going to the lake? Have you ever made your assessments about who was great by listening to the media, or seeing who went viral? Who are the Kardashians, and why does anyone care?)

There are a couple of things that jump out of this passage: One, when it comes to your relationship with God what are you focused on? Are you thinking about what He can do for you, or do you ever simply focus on Him? The disciples had Jesus RIGHT THERE, in the flesh, but they weren’t thinking about him. Instead, they were wondering about which of them was the greatest, and what positions they would hold when they overthrew the Romans. Is your prayer life directed more at “do”, or “be”? (Yeah, I know, there’s a bad Sinatra joke in there somewhere…) Appreciate God in the moment instead of just asking Him for stuff.

Finding True Greatness

Second, how many leaders do you know who actually serve to lead? Our society places value on being rich and important. In our culture, being the greatest usually means that you are the one who gets served… But, seriously, how many Dads, bosses, husbands, or politicians are servant leaders? How about you? What type of attributes characterize YOUR leadership? Jesus said it this way: if you are not serving, then you are not leading. If you are not the least, you are not the greatest. The next time you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, remember what he said. Remember what he did. If you are looking for greatness, that’s where you’ll find it.

The Greatest of All Time...

Hollywood has parties that are only for the "A List";
Culture celebrates the best, the richest, or the latest.
Jesus showed humility in something of a plot twist,
While disciples sat and argued who would be the greatest.
Jesus gathered up his robe, and took the lowest seat
To give the men an object lesson as he washed their feet.
"Among the Gentiles, leaders strut and rule for all to see;
They act like sovereign lords as if they have the right to be.
If you want to be the greatest, this is how you start:
Begin by serving others with a humble servant's heart."
Their argument hung in empty air as each one realized
That leadership was at their feet, and looked into their eyes...

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Leadership Upside-Down: The Man Who Led the Wrong Way

There are lots of different definitions of leadership, and many different ways to lead. Wikipedia says, “Controversial viewpoints are present in the literature, among Eastern and Western approaches to leadership, and also within the West, on US vs. European approaches.” I’m sure these approaches to leadership have their strong and weak points, but there’s a rarely used one in the Bible that’s worth considering. It’s also one that’s worth following.

leadership

A Different Template

“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 the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45, NIV)

James and John had approached Jesus and asked to sit next to him when he came into glory. This caused some friction among the other disciples, who resented the idea and wanted to establish their own place in the pecking order. Jesus starts by reminding them how the Gentile leaders operated, and told them to turn that model upside down. This paradigm for leadership was not just something Jesus talked about, it was something he lived and demonstrated.

A Critical Characteristic

When some of John’s disciples asked Jesus what he was about, his answer was “Come, and you will see.” (John 1:30) His direct, accessible leadership style was founded upon exemplary humility and service. Instead of lording over them, the Lord of Lords humbled himself and served them in the most menial act of service their society had to offer…

Quick, now: make a list of all the leaders you have ever known who operated the same way. I bet it’s a short list. Our cultural definition of leadership rewards authority, giftedness, the ability to motivate people, strength, and ego. In today’s political world it also takes a large amount of money. Members of Congress used to be called public servants; now we call them millionaires. 237 current members of Congress are millionaires, which is roughly 44% of the people in the House and the Senate. (Whereas only about 1% of all US citizens are millionaires… let that sink in a moment.)

Jesus says that instead of lording it over others, the leader should be a servant and a slave to all. So stop and recalibrate your definition of leadership. Think of ways you can serve others. Then get out there and lead!

Upside-down Leadership

Politicians interest me. It seems that no one dares
To ask why all those Congressmen end up as millionaires…
Aren’t they public servants? That’s a term that I’ve heard used,
But more and more it seems like public trust has been abused.
Leaders strut and posture, and they’ll offer up a speech,
But more and more it seems that they are rich and out of reach.

Jesus told his followers, “Don’t do what rulers do:
They exercise authority and lord it over you.
Instead, if you desire to lead, and want to be the best,
Don’t emulate those leaders who are just like all the rest,
But here’s a thought on leadership that you should contemplate:
Go serve, and be a slave to all. Then you’ll be truly great.”
The disciples looked around the room; they knew it must be true.
For after all, it’s what they’d always seen the Master do.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread