Question: Matthew 20: 27 reads, “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Is it a proper desire to be chief among the Lord’s people, and are we to understand that the positions in God’s Kingdom will be assigned entirely on the basis of the amount of service rendered?
Answer: The Lord had just pointed out to His disciples a certain weakness on their part – a desire to be the greatest – a desire that is general in the human family – an ambitious spirit. The context says that amongst the Gentiles there are some who exercise a lordship and have others serve them, but that was not to be the case amongst Jesus’ disciples. His followers are not to have a spirit to rule others, but a spirit of love, which seeks to serve others, a spirit which is willing to sacrifice personal interest in the service of others.
Naturally, there will be some among the Lord’s people who will be chief. Some are born with more talents and some with less. An absolute equality is not possible. What then is the standard as to who is to be chief? We reply, We should look for those who have most of the spirit of service. But the desire for honor of men must not be present. We should leave God to attend to that matter as shall seem to Him best, and be content merely to be a servant of the brethren.
We need ambition to spur us on to do whatever we do in a satisfactory manner. So if we have the opportunity of serving the Truth, we should seek to serve it in the most capable manner possible. But we are to lay aside any desire to be chief so far as ambition for personal glory is concerned. And this service should be prompted by love. Any service not prompted by love is not acceptable in the sight of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul said that those who desire the office of an elder are desiring a good thing. But some have made the mistake of thinking that the office of Elder has become theirs by right, instead of realizing that the appointment to this office is by vote of the Ecclesia. Following the vote, every member of the congregation should accept the outcome. If the class makes a mistake, the Lord is able to overrule it for good. If a certain brother is not elected or reelected as an Elder, the Lord may be indicating to him other opportunities for service.
We should not be influenced by what others say or think of us, but should seek to please the Lord. We should not esteem ourselves too highly, but rather prefer others in our estimation. We would understand that positions in God’s Kingdom will be awarded to the degree of the development of the fruits of the spirit; and this means a love which will lead to zeal in the Lord’s service.