MATTHEW 20:25-28: “Jesus called the apostles and said, “You know that the rulers of nations have absolute power over people and their officials have absolute authority over people. But that’s not the way it’s going to be among you. Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant. Whoever wants to be most important among you will be your slave. It’s the same way with the Son of Man. He didn’t come so that others could serve him. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: “A title and 10 cents won’t buy you a cup of coffee.” This was one of the wisest things my Dad ever said to me. I don’t know why it stuck, but it did. I don’t think he was referring to this section of Scripture in Matthew, but it sure fits. James and John’s mother approached Jesus trying to guarantee them a place of prominence on the right and left hand of Jesus. Jesus response is what we find in Matthew 20:25-28.
My Dad had many titles during his working career. Some were mediocre, and others were quite impressive. I think he said the above to me when I reacted to one of those “impressive” titles. What my Dad knew, and what I would come to learn, is that a title does not make a man or define his importance in a job. Only the character of the man does this. And a man or woman of great character will be the one who is always putting others before themselves. A truly great leader is one who serves others so that they can accomplish the task that is before them.
The church soon forgot this teaching of Jesus. When we read the 7 letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation we are introduced to what is called the “Doctrine of the Nicolaitans”. Jesus speaking to the Church in Ephesus says,
- “But you have this in your favor—you hate what the Nicolaitans are doing. I also hate what they’re doing.” (Revelation 2:6 GW)
It is believed that the Nicolaitans were the first group that began to emphasize a division between the leadership and the church. It has come to be know as the clergy and the laity. They gave greater importance (and title) to those who were in positions of leadership and teaching, and less to the average believer. They turned Jesus’ teaching upside down. To the Nicolaitans, the first were first, the last were last, and the last were to be servants of the first. This Jesus hated!
There is a fresh resurgence of the “Doctrine of the Nicolaitans” among Evangelicals today. There are those who love the title of “Apostle”, “Preeminent”, “Reverend”, and the list goes on and on. However, I have never seen someone get excited about receiving the title “Preeminent Servant”, but if there was a title to get excited about, it should be this one. We are not to lord it over one another in the church, we are to serve one another in love!
- “A title and 10 cents won’t buy you a cup of coffee!” – in this life, or in the life to come!
In spite of all of the silliness that exists today there are still many who know, understand, and practice the teaching of Jesus Christ regarding humility, servanthood, and true leadership. They are not worried about their title, or about receiving accolades from the crowd. They are content knowing that they are fulfilling the will and heart of their Master, Jesus Christ. They know that all they do, without fanfare, and without the ulterior motive of being noticed, is never forgotten by their Father who is in heaven. They desire only one accolade at the end of their life.
- “His master replied, ‘Good job! You’re a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s happiness.’” (Matthew 25:21 GW)
Lord, forgive me for the times that I have walked in a way that does not exemplify the heart of a true leader. Let me joyfully and wholeheartedly take on the mantle of a servant. Let me not seek after accolades or desire titles. Let me only desire Your approval that comes from walking fully and completely in Your steps!
In Jesus Name!