“I’d like to be a servant when I grow up,” said no one ever. Who would ever want to be a servant? That’s a position of lowliness, weakness, and poverty rather than of prestige, power, and wealth. Why would anyone choose to be a servant rather than a master?

That’s a question that stumped the disciples too. A couple of them asked Jesus for the highest, most powerful, and most prestigious seats in heaven. When the other disciples heard this conversation, they jumped in to put them down and elevate themselves over them. They were all jockeying for position, power, and prestige.

Jesus was not impressed and therefore “called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).

Jesus gave two reasons why they should seek to be servants rather than masters: (1) It’s the way to true greatness; and (2) it’s the way to great usefulness. We will look at how Jesus exemplified that and then at how we can follow that example.


  • Sermon 1: God’s purpose is is to glorify himself in grace-and-truth filled relationships.
  • Sermon 2: Our first purpose is to glorify God in grace-and-truth filled relationships.
  • Sermon 3: Our second purpose is to give God pleasure.
  • Sermon 4: Our third purpose is to receive and return God’s love.
  • Sermon 5: Our fourth purpose is to be part of God’s family
  • Sermon 6: Our fifth purpose is to be like God’s Son.
  • Sermon 7: Our sixth purpose is to be God’s servant

Who’s the greatest ever servant?


Jesus came to serve sinners

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve (45).

World leaders rarely travel to dangerous parts of the world. If they do, they are accompanied by an army of security, staff, and other servants. When Jesus came to this earth, he came from safety to danger. from comfort to pain, from peace to hostility, from love to hate. from heaven to hell, from being served by angels to serve sinners. He was not forced to come but came willingly, freely, and enthusiastically. He did not come as a person of wealth, power, or prestige, but as a poor, weak, servant. It was a despised menial role, yet he entered into it with all of his heart. He served many different kinds of people: the poor, the blind, the lame, the rebel, the wicked. He served in so many different ways: teaching, preaching, counseling, praying, discipling, suffering, dying. He never had one selfish thought.

Jesus came to pay a ransom for sinners

The Son of man came….to give his life as a ransom for many (45).

A ransom implies a captive and a captor. In this case, sinners are the captives and the captors are Satan and sin. We were sentenced to this captivity by God as a punishment for sins committed against him (2 Tim. 2:26). We cannot find or raise our ransom price and none of our family or friends can either (Ps. 49:7).

Although we were justly sentenced to captivity and therefore had no right to be freed, Jesus came to campaign for our release. He came not because of our merits, but because of our misery and his mercy. He came not just to campaign but to pay the ransom too. His ransom was:

  • Valuable: He gave up his time, talents, desires, comforts, home, family, security, reputation, life, body, soul.
  • Voluntary: He was not a victim and this was not an accident or fate. It was his conscious choice
  • Victorious: He campaigned, paid the ransom, reversed God’s sentence, and freed us from our kidnappers.


True greatness. In this world, most are motivated by the desire to be served rather than to serve. The result may be greatness according to this world’s standards, but not by God’s. God says true greatness belongs to the greatest servant (Luke 9:48). Why won’t you ask him to serve you?

Great usefulness. The greatest Servant performed the greatest service resulting in the greatest usefulness. Someone can have the greatest power in this world yet achieve nothing useful with it. Jesus had the least power in the world on the cross and yet achieved the greatest usefulness. Why won’t you ask him to pay the ransom for you?


If that’s why Jesus came here, why are we here?


“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (43-44).

We have five areas of service

  • God: Every day we wake, our first words should be, what will you have me to do?
  • Family: Husbands, wives, and children should be competing to see who can serve most and best.
  • Calling: We must frame our vocations as the place we serve God, our families, and others.
  • Church: We do not go to church primarily to be served but to serve. Church is Servant University.
  • Community: How can we best serve our neighbors and neighborhoods?
  • World: If we have the ability, time, and resources, and if we’ve proven ourselves in smaller areas

We have five considerations in service

God gives each of his servants a unique SHAPE (see Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren)

  • Unwrapping your spiritual gifts: These are given to benefit others not ourselves (1 Cor. 12:7)
  • Listening to your heart: Our desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, loves, passions, enthusiasm.
  • Applying your abilities: Where are you most effective? Try different service opportunities to find out.
  • Using your personality: Unique combination of introvert/extrovert, thinker/feeler, optimist/pessimist
  • Employing your experiences: Family, education, vocational, spiritual, ministry, painful experiences

“God never wastes a hurt! In fact, your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt. If you really desire to be used by God, you must understand a powerful truth: The very experiences that you have resented or regretted most in life — the ones you’ve wanted to hide and forget — are the experiences God wants to use to help others. They are your ministry!” Rick Warren


Discern your areas and shape of service. Prayerfully consider the places and types of service God is calling you into.

Look forward to the reward of your service. “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21). There we will serve the Servant but also be served by the Servant (Lk. 12:37).



Screenshot 2023-05-06 at 8.42.11 PM


  • Unbelievers. Jesus wants to serve you by paying your ransom and saving you. Will you humble yourself to ask for his service.
  • Children. Your primary places of service are your family and your school
  • Teens. You don’t get eight years off service in your teen years. Rather it’s a time to try various kinds of service to find out where/how/who God is calling you to serve
  • Adults: Frame work as serving God and others to get great sense of purpose and meaning
  • Seniors: If you are fit and able it’s a wonderful time to serve in ways you’ve always lacked the time for. If you are not fit or able, you can still serve in prayer, giving, cards.

Prayer: Lord and Master, show me how you want me to serve you and others so that I can see great usefulness and show what true greatness is.


  1. What are some obstacles to viewing oneself as a servant?
  2. In which of the five areas did Jesus serve and how did he serve in them?
  3. What areas can you serve in better?
  4. Write out your SHAPE and discuss with someone else?
  5. How can you serve God better?
  6. What pain has God used in your life to guide you into his service?