Embracing Servanthood

Matthew 20:26-28
26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Philippians 2:5-7
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
     In today's fast-paced, achievement-oriented world, the concept of being a servant is often overshadowed by the pursuit of personal success and leadership. However, these two passages from Matthew and Philippians offer a counter-cultural perspective on greatness and leadership through the lens of servanthood.
     In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus provides a counter-cultural view of leadership and greatness. In a society where rulers and high officials wielded power with a heavy hand, Jesus introduced a different metric of greatness - service to others. He said, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave." This statement was radical at the time and remains challenging today.
     Jesus did not just preach this principle; He embodied it. He clarified that He did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. This act of ultimate service and sacrifice redefines what it means to be great. It's not about climbing the ladder of success or wielding power but about humbling oneself to serve others.
     Philippians 2:5-7 further deepens our understanding of servanthood by pointing us to the mindset of Christ Himself. Paul urges believers to have the same attitude as Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage. Instead, He made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. The Greek word kenosis is used to explain that Christ denied Himself of His divine nature (at least in part) in order that He would be able to submit His own human will, unto the will of God. Essentially, for Jesus to live the life of a man, he had to empty himself of certain aspects of his divine power and his divine rights.
     This passage teaches us that servanthood is not just an action but a mindset. It's about letting go of our privileges, rights, or status for the sake of others. Jesus, though God, did not cling to His status but emptied Himself to serve humanity.

     How do we apply these teachings in our daily lives?
     First, it calls for a shift in how we view greatness and success. True greatness lies not in how many people serve us, but in how many we serve. It's about putting others' needs above our own and looking for opportunities to be of service.
     Second, it challenges us to adopt the mindset of Christ. This means constantly asking ourselves: Are we seeking to serve or to be served? Are we willing to set aside our interests, comfort, or even rights for the good of others?
     Lastly, these passages invite us to find joy and fulfillment in servanthood. While the world often associates servanthood with weakness or inferiority, Jesus shows us that there is profound strength and honor in choosing to serve.
  1. Philippians 2:5-7 deepens the concept of servanthood by presenting it as a mindset, not just an action. This includes the idea of kenosis, where Jesus emptied Himself of divine privileges to serve humanity. How does the concept of kenosis, or self-emptying, translate into modern life? What might "emptying oneself" look like in our daily interactions and decisions?
  2. Servanthood requires letting go of privileges, rights, or status for the sake of others, as modeled by Jesus. What are practical ways individuals can 'let go' of personal privileges or status to serve others? How does this approach affect personal relationships and societal dynamics?
  3. Jesus' lived out His teachings, emphasizing His role as a servant rather than being served, and His sacrifice as an act of service. In what ways can the principle of leading by serving be applied in various areas of life, such as family, workplace, or community? Are there any challenges or limitations to practicing this in today's context?

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