Message Library

Everyone can be Great

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It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave …

Matthew 20:26–27

Everyone can be great. Near the end of Jesus’ life, the mother of James and John asks Jesus for a favor. James and John, along with Peter, are Jesus’ closest followers. The mother asks Jesus to give her sons the two most prominent positions in what she perceives to be Jesus’ coming kingdom. Jesus responds to the mother’s request by telling her that true greatness comes from being the servant of all.

In 1968, Martin Luther King delivers a final message to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. His message focuses on this story and the lure of pursuing what the world defines as greatness. King rightly observes that Jesus defines greatness in a way that makes greatness possible for everyone. “By giving that definition of greatness,” King says, “it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second law of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”

Everyone wants to be significant, to feel their life matters. Everyone wants to be great. And, yet, why do we so readily pursue greatness as the world defines it? Greatness in the world’s eyes is hard to achieve, accessible to only a few, empty, and contrary to what God desires.

… for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever. (1 John 2:16-17)

Our motives for seeking greatness the way the world defines it may be noble. Wealth and fame can create opportunities for doing good and affecting positive changes. Yet, people are rarely able to influence change as much as they think when their methods depend on wealth and fame. Consider, instead, how the world would change if every person chose to be a servant of all.

Recognize today that Jesus offers you a pathway to greatness and significance. Reject pursuing what the world values and decide to pursue the greatness that God desires by following Jesus’ example of selfless service to all.

Let’s pray: May your heart of grace and love fill my soul today, Father. May it empower me to be your servant in the world, making your grace a present reality in every situation. In Jesus name, Amen