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  • Writer's picturePatrick Dirrim

The Way Up is Down (Matthew 20:26-28)

"...whoever would be great among you must be your servant, ²⁷and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, ²⁸even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." –Matthew 20:26-28

Christians are distinct from the world in many ways, but one trait stands out above the rest: servant leadership. We’ve all seen the opposite in those who have positions of power and leadership when they lord it over those under them. And if we’re being honest, we have probably seen it in ourselves as we’ve angled and maneuvered for our benefit, at the cost of those around us.

This is what we see in our passage this week. Jesus is responding to the disciples after the meddling request of James’ and John’s mother. She asked Jesus to grant her two sons to be seated at His right and left hand in His coming kingdom–positions of highest honor. Understandably, the disciples were miffed at her request, and the possibility that they might miss out on those same honored seats.

In response, Jesus sternly rebuked all twelve of His disciples and as He did so, He drew attention to how He exercised His authority and power over them. The all-powerful creator and sustainer of everything, the One who simply spoke everything into existence by the power of His word, demonstrated true greatness by humbling Himself in submission to His Father.

Jesus did not come to be served, what anyone would reasonably expect of a King. Rather, He came to serve—both His Father and His people. His service was not mere lip service or some amateur-hour effort. Jesus served by giving His life. He who is life, laid it down in order to save many.

His is a counter-cultural way of leading and exercising power! It’s counter even to the way Christians, who still struggle with their old, fallen sin nature, are inclined to lead. But those who are called and bought by the servant-leader King are to follow His example—by serving and giving of themselves for the good of others, to the glory of the Father. May we be a people who truly stand out from the world around us, serving and giving of ourselves like Jesus did.


For Reflection

  1. What positions of leadership, influence, or power has God given to you?

  2. Are you modeling Christ-like servant leadership in those positions?

  3. In what specific ways could you more sacrificially serve like Christ?


Pat Dirrim has been in full-time ministry since 2011. He and his wife Barbara have been married for 27 years. They have seven children, three of whom remain at home. They helped start Grace Fellowship 18 years ago and have worshipped there ever since, outside of the two years when they served as missionaries in Guatemala. They have been using Truth78 curriculum the entire time of their church’s existence and have introduced it at many other churches, as well as trained others how to use it.


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