Acts 17: 1–9; 1 Thessalonians 2:1–6
What is it going to take to convince us that the last will be first and the first will be last? For some it will take a lifetime, for others only a few semesters in seminary.
Each May, at the end of the spring term at Dallas Seminary, we have the joy of listening to the school’s top preachers. They’re nominated and selected by pastoral-ministry professors. One year a talented young man preached on that pivotal passage in John 13 where Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. After a compelling exposition of that simple text, the young senior class preacher leaned low into the microphone, looked across the faces in Chafer Chapel, and asked his fellow students, “Do you want to have a great ministry . . . . or do you just want to be great?”
The packed chapel went silent. Nobody blinked. I’ll never forget his question. None of us will. I hope he never does either.
In a single question he captured the crucial issue: greatness. Not as the world defines it. But greatness according to the standard of Almighty God. Great leaders are servants first. Like Paul . . . like his Master Jesus Christ.
This is for you, and this is for me. If you’ve never submitted fully to the Master, this is your moment. If you’re still arrogant, you probably won’t be struck down with blindness or find yourself shackled in a Roman prison. That was Paul’s experience. But now that I have your attention, I suggest you take a good look within.
You do know how strong-willed and proud you are. So do the people you lead. You know how slow you are to encourage and how reluctant you are to affirm. They do too. You know if you’re greedy. You know if you’re self-serving. Frankly, it’s time to give all that up. We’re back to the crucial question: Do you want to have a great ministry, or do you just want to be great?
How you answer will determine how you lead.