That is a characteristic that few of us naturally desire to pursue. Naturally we are selfish. We love our to serve ourselves before we would dare to serve anyone else. Humility is an aspect of discipleship that isn’t easy, especially in keeping our pride at bay while eagerly pursuing to serve others. In fact, this was an attribute that the disciples struggled with mightily.
33 Then they came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then He took a child, had him stand among them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in My name welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me, but Him who sent Me.”
~ Mark 9:33-37
The disciples were missing the point of what it was to follow Jesus. They were concerned about who was the greatest disciple. They were focused on who was Jesus’ right hand man. This was a dispute that the disciples had more than once, but Jesus set the record straight, “If you want to be truly great, you must serve everyone BUT yourself.” He certainly had the disciples attention. Then Jesus adds that to be great you must be a “servant of all” That word servant (διάκονος) is where we get the modern church term for deacon.
Jesus was telling His disciples that greatness comes in the unseen things. One who works behind the scenes. One who is faithful in intercessory prayer. One who is an encourager to the unlovable. One who shares the hope of the Gospel when you are rushing around doing errands. The disciple does little things.
Jesus doesn’t stop with doing little things. We must also serve little people. Jesus loved kids. He saw their childlike faith as a remarkable attribute. The disciples on the other hand wanted much more. They wanted the fame and praise that came with teaching the crowds, they didn’t want to spend time in children’s church. Jesus’ call to His followers is to love children.
In fact the word welcome in verse 37, literally means to bring into one’s family and to educate. We are to take a young child, treat them as our own and raise them as a part of true Christian community. Living your faith in front of a child is far from a task full of worldly praise, but it is a calling that is incredibly fruitful.
The calling card of the disciple is much like the way Jesus lived: as a humble servant. If you need a clearer picture of that read through Philippians 2 and see the example that Christ sets as the humble servant. Go live your life deferring to others and serving in any means possible. Go serve in little things seeking out the “little” people in the world.