“I know my job description and what my company’s contract says, but here’s how I boil it down. My job is to make you look good.” My client rep looked at me surprised and a little amused.
“Me personally, or my company?” he asked.
“Why not both? If I help you do your job better, doesn’t that benefit your company too? I figure that if I’m part of that success, that can’t be bad for me or my company either, right?”
He grinned, and we moved on to discuss the day’s tasks.
Throughout most of my jobs, I’ve found that the same principle applies; if what I do makes my product, or my company, or my client, or my colleagues look good, then I’ll probably come out better than just OK. This attitude works. There was one year when I got three raises. Three raises, simply by following this principle.
The one job when I got too big for my britches, the results were not so good. I don’t know whether it was because of my age and life experience or my inexperience and insecurity about the job at hand, but I adopted a pattern of self-promotion by looking down on everyone else. I hurt colleagues and lost friendships… explosively. I over-promised and under-delivered, and ultimately, I lost my job. It’s the only time I’ve left a workplace with every bridge in flames.
It’s not that I never hurt anyone at any other job; I’d guess we all do from time to time. But those times were the exception, not the rule. When I focus on “me,” I fail. When I focus on others, I succeed.
As they were going about their journey, the disciples asked Jesus, “Who, then, is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” (Matthew 18:1, NIV). Interestingly, the same account is in both Mark and Luke, but those writers paint a less flattering picture of the disciples:
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.Mark 9:33-35, NIV
How did Jesus respond? Think about our Western culture. Who gets to be first? We see a lot of examples of people who get promoted by stepping on “the little guy.” We often find out that our favorite actor, athlete, or author is a real jerk in person. But Jesus’ answer was counter cultural in His day, just like it is today:
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”Mark 9:36, NIV
In Matthew Chapter 20, not long after the disciples’ question about greatness, Jesus tells a parable about day-laborers hired to work in a vineyard. Regardless of the time of day they were hired, each worker was paid the same amount for their work that day. Feel free to go read it, but the conclusion of the parable was, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16, NIV).
In John Chapter 13, Jesus illustrates the principle of Kingdom service by washing His disciples’ feet – a menial and dirty task:
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.John 13:12-17, NIV
If you really dig in and study the Bible, you find out that God has one ultimate reason for doing what He does. God operates for His own glory. Why? Because there’s no one above God for Him to glorify. Do you remember this passage that Jurie discussed a week or two ago?
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”John 12:27-28, NIV
Or consider this passage, also from John:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.John 17:1b-5, NIV
What are the acts by which God has glorified Himself? Well, He created the universe (Psalm 19:1), He rescued the Hebrews from Egypt (through miracle after miracle – see Exodus 19:16), and He made the sinful righteous by the blood of His Son (2 Peter 1:3). In just these few examples (and I assure you there are infinitely more, all the way to the present time), we see that God serves His own glory by serving mankind. How much more, then, will we bring glory to God by serving our fellow man?
Sunday morning, Joe shared a powerful message about being ambassadors for the Kingdom. Please, please go watch it if you haven’t; there were few dry eyes in the house. One of the most practical things he said about Kingdom work was, “Kingdom workers just show up.” They see a need, and they go there and help. They respond to God’s nudging to serve, or pray, or share the Gospel, or just be there with someone who needs a friendly face.
In God’s economy, He blesses those who serve others, and these are the acts that glorify Him. So just show up. Do what you can to serve the kingdom by serving others. Make God look good by loving the way He does, in His name, and watch the world change.
“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Matthew 20:26b-28
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