Christmastime is a vivid example of how much we want the best for our children. Sue and I budgeted and saved to try and give our kids a good Christmas each year. Even so, after the shopping and wrapping was done, I recall frequently asking, “Did we do enough?” It’s natural to want our kids to receive and do great things. And to be great. As parents, we long to hear the words, “You have a great son or daughter there.”
The mother of the disciples James and John wanted the best for her kids too. They were well on their way. Jesus not only chose her sons to be among his 12 disciples, but along with Peter, Jesus gave James and John special attention (Mark 5:37, 9:2, 14:33). So, it probably didn’t seem an overreach for the brothers to ask for the greatest seats on either side of Jesus in his kingdom (Mark 10:37). And being a loving parent, mom was willing to take up the matter with Jesus (Matthew 20:20-21).
I’m Here to Serve and Give: Jesus used the opportunity to teach them and us that God doesn’t measure greatness the way the world does:
“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the 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 your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Not So with You: While the world pursues power and prosperity in search of greatness, it doesn’t work that way when we follow Jesus. God equates greatness with serving and giving.
Jesus showed up on every scene with the mindset that he was here to serve and give. That I’m-here-to-serve-and-give mindset (Philippians 2:5-8) will transform any relationship, marriage, family, job, etc. That’s the mindset Jesus came with to change the world.
One of the best things we can demonstrate and teach to our children (and each other) is how to be truly great by serving and giving with the mindset of Jesus.