“I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27).

Ambition has become something of a dirty word in our day. To many people it implies an overwhelming desire for personal advancement regardless of the cost and regardless of who is hurt in the process. Let’s face it. There is entirely too much of that kind of ambition in the business world. In every company or office you can almost always find a few people who are willing to play fast and loose with the truth if it will help them climb the corporate ladder. They cut corners, they lie on their expense reports, they spread malicious gossip, they abuse their authority, and they know how to stab you in the back and walk away laughing. In the truest sense of the phrase, they are looking out for number one.

Jesus knew all about men and women like that. And he understood that his followers would be tempted to use the same tactics. With four simple words he radically broke with that kind of ambition: “Not so with you” (v. 26). Then he painted an entirely picture of ambition. “Do you want to be a leader? That’s great because the world needs good leaders. Here’s what I want you to do. Become a servant. Pick up a towel and start washing dirty feet. Think of yourself as a slave and not as a master.” 

No doubt the disciples recoiled at the thought of taking the menial role of a servant. After all, these were the geniuses who had just been arguing about who was going to have the seat of honor at the big banquet in the Kingdom. The whole point of picking the seat of honor is to have someone else serve you. 

“Not so with you.” With those four words Jesus turned the values of the world upside down and established a new fraternity—the Royal Order of Servants. Want to join?

Who is the most Christlike person you know? He (or she) is probably busy washing dirty feet because that’s what servants do. Want to be like Jesus today? Find a towel and basin and get started. 

Lord Jesus, you came not to serve but to serve others. Grant that I might have your servant’s heart today. Amen. 

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.