The story’s told of a young pastor who was widely known to be a gifted preacher. But as his congregation swelled—so did his head! One Sunday after he’d delivered his latest masterpiece, a church member shook his hand and said, ‘You are, without a doubt, one of the greatest preachers of our generation.’ It was all the young minister could do to squeeze his head into the car as he slid behind the steering wheel. And as he and his wife drove home he told her what his parishioner had said. She didn’t respond, so after fishing for affirmation he said, ‘I wonder just how many “great preachers” there are in this generation?’ She replied, ‘One fewer than you think, dear!’
Try to imagine Jesus kneeling with a towel and a basin to wash the dirt from your feet. In those days of unpaved streets, it was a common courtesy. When you visited someone’s home they’d wash your feet as a way of saying, ‘I welcome and honour you.’ When Jesus’ disciples protested, He said to them, ‘I have given you an example to follow: do as I have done to you… That is the path of blessing.’ (John 13:15–17 TLB) Someone once asked Leonard Bernstein, the brilliant New York Philharmonic conductor, what the most difficult position in the orchestra was. He replied, ‘Second fiddle.’
Everybody wants to sit in the first chair. But in God’s Kingdom we’re called to consider others first and ourselves second. When we do, God promises to honour us.