Most Christian leaders have a deep, often unspoken desire for ‘greatness’. Some seek recognition and fame, others seek influence and impact. In the world system, self-promotion and ‘brand recognition’ are part of the game for public figures. However, Kingdom perspective is different. While it is wonderful to seek to impact as many people as you can, craving position, authority, status, and human recognition is not.
We know from the gospels that the disciples often discussed among themselves who was the greatest. It was not long before they recognized that Jesus might end up as king, so they began to posture for positions in the coming earthly kingdom. Nepotism was a common practice in New Testament times. Family and friends of those in authority would often use their relational connections to seek appointments to key positions, whether or not they were competent. In Matthew 20:20, it seems that the mother of James and John (most likely Mary’s sister and Jesus’ ‘aunt’) tried to use family connections to influence Jesus concerning the future positions of her sons in this earthly kingdom. Understandably, the other disciples were upset! While such a ‘request’ would be normal in the world system of that day, Jesus explained that greatness in God’s kingdom is very different.
After asking James and John if they would be able to endure suffering, Jesus disclosed that the Father himself made such appointments. Jesus then explained greatness in God’s eyes. He told his disciples, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
Jesus did not just teach this; he lived it. How about you?
Do not pursue position and recognition. Instead, seek to represent the Lord Jesus by humbly serving and blessing others. In God’s eyes, this makes you ‘great’!