Greatest When Least

“You know that the rulers in his world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you, it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42b-45 

In a few weeks, we are concluding a series at Ground Zero called Say What?! We’ve been teaching through the various things Jesus said, Jesus did, or God commands that are opposite of what the world, those who don’t follow Jesus, tells us is normal; things that make us go, say what?!

And I can’t stop thinking about this last one: Greatest when least. This might be Jesus’ most radical, most opposite teaching of what the world glorifies.

In a world where athletes are trying to “get what they deserve” – more money, more fame, more celebrity; in a world where business men and women are constantly striving to become greater – moving up the organizational chain, making more money; in a world where pastors attempt to gain more fame – placing their pearly-white teethed pictures on the front page of their church’s website, promoting themselves more than Jesus.

It’s a world that fully embraces the equation that greatness = more (money, success, fame, popularity).

But Jesus says he came to serve, to give his life as a ransom, and everyone must be a slave. Say What?!

We’re all born with a desire for more. We’re born with a gap between what life is and what life could be. There is a dissatisfaction inherent in each one of us, and we are driven by something to fill that gap.

The problem is, as Christians, we’ve begun to sell Jesus as the missing link to the gap – and not the “greatest when least” Jesus.

We sell the “Jesus will fulfill your dreams” or the “Jesus will make you happy” one. But we forget to mention that Jesus himself didn’t even promise to be that missing link between dissatisfaction and satisfaction, at least not in the way a Happy Meal or a winning Lottery ticket can fulfill our desires.

“Everywhere we turn we are being promised that our life can be wonderful if we follow a certain formula. It is as if the world is a huge vending machine full of products, each one promising to satisfy our souls.” Peter Rollins, Idolatry of God.

And he church has joined in this fun. In some ways, the youth ministry world worse than other parts of the church.

But what if Jesus came not to just be another product and instead, came to rid us of that desire for X perfection, X satisfaction, or X complete happiness? What if instead Jesus is saying: Stop searching for perfect harmony. Stop searching for what’s missing in the GAP, and instead, let me show you a different way. I came to give my life as a ransom for many. I didn’t find complete satisfaction in this. Instead, I gave my life away. I learned truly how to be greatest when least.

This may be true and I love the thought, but I am not sure how to completely follow Jesus on this one. If greatest is really least, how do we become least?

There lies the answer for our insatiable hunger for satisfaction. And there lies the answer we need to give our young people.

New Year’s Resolve

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It sure seems like New Year’s Resolutions got a bad wrap this year. Every where I turned it seemed people were saying things like: “It’s pointless to make New Year’s Resolutions because you end up breaking them by February anyways.” And on and on and on.

But I’m all for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s part of the ebb and flow of life, and I’m okay with whatever comes as a result.

When I was a baseball player and training hard to put on more weight, I would take time in the pre-season to lift more intensely and take supplements, like creatine. Now, I knew that by taking creatine that whatever I added in weight and muscle was about 25% water that I would eventually lose when I was done with creatine. However, because of my focus on lifting more intensely and setting new resolve to push harder for a shorter time, I gained more than I otherwise would have.

What does that have to do with New Year’s Resolutions? Regardless of when they are broken, it is still an important part of the ebb and flow of my life – to set resolutions, go for it with everything I have, and then realize it was worth the push, no matter when they trailed off.

With that being said, here are a few of mine:

1. Grow in peace
This year, I want to focus on the peace and confidence that ONLY comes as a result of Jesus Christ in me. This year, rather than being anxious about results, ministry, my family, and my life, I want to learn to deeply rest in the fact that Christ is the only hope, assurance, and peace I can put my confidence in.

How am I going to do this?
* Never replace my quiet time with God with other activity
* Spend 4 nights this year at a prayer cabin
* Go through counseling (which I’ve already begun)
* Pray and listen more
* Focus more on what God is saying to me and less on what God is saying to others (in books, sermons, or otherwise)
* Fast once a month

2. Grow in discipline
Since I’ve finished playing professional sports, I have lost some of the discipline that helped me achieve in sports. So, this year, I simply want to increase and grow in basic disciplines like healthy eating and working out so I can re-establish this kind of living in my life.

How am I going to do this?
* P90x 4 times a week (I just can’t do Yoga and Kenpo, so I’m modifying this one)
* Counting calories (Great with myfitnesspal).
* Less sweets

So far, this has been easy to re-establish, but check with me again in February!

3. Be a better Father and Husband than I am a Pastor
One of the primary goals of my life is that those closest to me (Emily and Maddox) would consider me the best Father and Husband they could ever ask for. But because this can be objective (like who are they really comparing me to!!), I want them to look at me and say: “John is a great pastor, but he’s an even better Dad and Husband.”

How am I going to do this?
* Remind myself before I enter my house that I need to turn it back on and bring my best energy to them.
* Spend one chunk of time a week alone with Maddox
* Go on a date once every two weeks with Emily
* Eat dinner together without a TV on
* Keep the phone on the counter and not in my hands when I’m at home
* Pray together and read Maddox’s stories (even though he can’t understand!).

Anyways. Those are just a few of my resolutions. It’s a new day and a new year to make another push towards a becoming a better you.
What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions?