Summary: I talk about God’s strategy for being #1 which is humility.
God’s Strategy For Being #1:
Illustration: A coach and his recruiter were talking about the upcoming football season. The recruiter asked, “What kind of players are you looking for this year coach?” The coach replied, “you know the player who gets knocked down and doesn’t get up?” The recruiter answered, “You don’t want that player.” The coach said, “right.” “You know the player that gets knocked down and gets back up but gets knocked down again?” the coach asked again. The recruiter said, “You don’t want that player either.” The coach said, “You know the player who gets knocked down, gets back up, gets knocked down and gets back up, gets knocked down and gets back up?” “That’s the player you want isn’t it coach”, the recruiter asked. “No,” the coach said. “I want the player that is knocking everybody down—that’s the player we want!”
So many people think that is what greatness is all about. The one always standing. The one always pushing himself forward.
God has his own strategy for greatness. His strategy is so foreign to us. We think of how we get to be #1: hard work, long hours, step over people, be tough, be stern, make lots of sacrifices. Our world is missing those who model true greatness. Our world needs people who will model true greatness. This church needs those who will model God’s approach to being #1. Our children are bombarded on television when they see sports stars and movie stars give a false sense of what true greatness is about.
In September (12th) 1994 the Star Tribune (in Minneapolis, Minnesota) carried a guest editorial that captured the atmosphere that asphyxiates humility:
“There are some who naively cling to the nostalgic memory of God. The average churchgoer takes a few hours out of the week to experience the sacred . . . But the rest of the time, he is immersed in a society that no longer acknowledges God as an omniscient and omnipotent force to be loved and worshiped. . . Today we are too sophisticated for God. We can stand on our own; we are prepared and ready to choose and define our own existence.” (Taken from a sermon by John Piper)
Unfortunately, this is the way the world turns. But it’s not the way God intends.
Here is God’s strategy for being number 1: Let’s look at Mark 10:35-45.
In this story Jesus had just finished telling his followers that he was going to be betrayed and condemned to death. It is as if James and John didn’t even hear what Jesus just said when they asked their “Teacher” if they could sit on the left and right of him in his glory. It was one of those, “you guys just don’t get it” moments. Jesus responds with telling them that those who want to be first you have to be a servant to all. He then ends in verse 45 with an example from his own life.
This reminds me of Philippians chapter 2. Paul tells the church there to imitate following Christ’s humility. In verse 5 he says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” It is as if Paul talks about what humility is and then he says o.k. here is how Jesus did it. He says in verse s 6-8, “Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
We see God’s strategy for being number one in these verses.
* God’s strategy for being #1 is this: the way up is the way down.
True greatness in life is not found in an accumulation of medals and trophies but in a life emptied into the Person of God in the service of others.
Here are some other scriptures that support this:
Proverbs 18:12 “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”
Matthew 23:12 “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Philippians 2:8-9 “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,”
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
So, what do I mean by the way up is the way down?
In Mark 10:45 Jesus tells us that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus’s purpose was not to be served but to serve and give his life. We are called to be followers of Christ. We are called to serve others. Not step over them. Not to do whatever we can do be successful or to get that promotion.