As we get rolling today, we are going to take some time to build a foundation. I want us to remember role models in our lives.
Who did you look up to as an example when you were a child? A high-schooler? A young adult? Who do you look up to now?
There are some people who stick out to me in my life. I could tell you stories about Josh Gerth, Jim Johnson, and Adam Roub. At the different times that my life intersected with these three men, they were leading different areas in different and, I thought, groundbreaking ways.
They all shared the characteristics of being strong, empathetic leaders while doing things a little differently than everyone around them. This conversation leads me to our next dialogue question:
What characteristics do the people who you count as a role-model share?
The most interesting part about the answers people give to this question is that all the people you mentioned are people that you would probably consider to be great.
Now, the definition of greatness can be–is–subjective. The names of great people thrown around in conversation vary widely based on one’s ideology, location in the world, interests, etc. Someone that one person may see as great, another may see as the worst person ever to live. Which leads us to the next question:
What makes someone great?
In the Western view of greatness, people who are great typically have worldwide influence or a ton of money. They have people who look up to them and they have all the stuff. They are household names, and they are the ones giving the orders, not following them.
It is also an ongoing conversation in society about who is the best. What makes someone the greatest person?
The conversation of who is the greatest is nothing new. Even Jesus’ disciples had this conversation. They were walking to Capernaum together and James and John were hanging out in the back having an interesting conversation:
They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them: “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. (Mark 9:33-34)
How fun would it be to be a fly on the wall when they arrive at a place and Jesus looks at James and John and says “so…. What were you talking about?”
They were discussing who would be the greatest. Jesus continued:
And sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” And He took a child and places him among them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” (Mark 9:35-37)
At this point Jesus begins teaching about what it looks like to be a servant. Little did they know that this would be a main focal point of Jesus’ teaching.
Jesus told them that the greatest person is the one who serves. That statement itself is a world-shaker for many in our society. Bigger, better, faster, stronger. More money, more fame, more influence, more money… did I say that one? It was also common in the ancient world:
Hearing this, the other ten began to feel indignant with James and John. Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles domineer over them. But it is not this way among you; rather, whoever wants to become prominent among you shall be your servant; and whoever wants to be first among you shall be servant 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 10:41-45)
This verse has a ton of weight behind it for followers of Jesus. The Gentile leaders domineered over their people, but the disciples were called to serve.
In today’s day and age, I think we can look at the hateful words spoken in disagreement, the unethical business practices that make the news, etc., as the domineering actions of people outside of the influence of Christ.
What are some specific things in our world that you believe could be fixed by a greatness reframe?
Today we built a foundation for this conversation on role models in our own lives, and we are going to bring that idea back around for the last little bit.
Jesus talked with His disciples about greatness and about what makes someone great in the Kingdom of God. The last note about these passages is that Jesus didn’t just speak service; He gave an example for His disciples and for us to follow
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:12-15 )
Jesus said that to be great, you must serve, and then He lived it out. He served his disciples to show them how to serve and that the greatest among them must serve.
Service is one thing that goes all throughout the New Testament–caring for the least of these, healing the sick and lame, meeting needs, etc. Jesus also addresses the motive behind the serving?
“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Serve each other and love.
What does it mean to be great? Our default setting as followers of Christ should be to love God, to love those around us, and to serve as we can with kindness, compassion, humility, patience, and thanksgiving. The example that Jesus set is one for us to follow, and it leads us to the final question:
In your sphere of influence, how can you live out Jesus’ example this week/month/year?