Matthew 20:25-28 – But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him 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."
"Climb that corporate ladder."
"My goal is to be a department manager within five years."
"I get so tired of having to answer to someone else. Some day I am going to be my own boss."
We live in a world that measures success by how much we can accomplish for ourselves. The higher one gets on that corporate ladder, or the more people one has charge of, the more successful one is thought to be. When it comes right down to it, the world says that the less work you can do for yourself, and the more work you can get others to do for you, the more successful you are.
I am not trying to say that there is anything wrong with advancing in a career, or that supervision and management are bad things. What I am trying to say is that we are using the wrong ruler to measure our success. In today's scripture, Jesus tells His disciples that if they want to achieve true success they must humble themselves and be willing to serve others. He says that the more the disciples do for others, the more successful they are and will be. This is the type of success we should be striving for.
Some of the most successful people in this world make the least amount of money, and do the most amount of work. If we are to stick to the "world's" measure of success, then a wife and a mother who gave all of her time and efforts to her family would never be considered a success. The father who worked two jobs, just to put his children through school and college, could never be a success. The medical missionary, who sold everything he had, and left his profitable practice to move to a foreign country to minister to those less fortunate, could never be a success.
The wonderful thing about success through serving others is that in reality it also has the greatest rewards. How often, when we have gone out of our way to help someone else in need, have we received as much, if not more, of a blessing from reaching out than the person whom we helped — not to mention the fact that "what goes around comes around". This is an old cliche, but it is biblically based, as Galatians 6:7 tells us that "whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap." So by serving others, one will likely find that in a time of need, there will be someone there waiting to return the favour. But not only will we receive the blessing in this world, but if we serve others as one of God's children, then we will also be laying up rewards for ourselves in heaven.
Perhaps we all need to re-evaluate our own success, looking not at what we have accomplished in the world's eyes, or how much we have attained for ourselves materially, but at the effects we have had upon those around us.
Prayer: Thank You, God, for the blessings of giving and serving. Point us to Jesus, who lived on earth as a servant, and gave His life for us. May we grow as we give ourselves willingly in service to You and to others in Jesus' name. Amen.