As you look back on your life, what would you say has brought you the most joy, happiness, and fulfillment? Think about it for a while. A few years ago I was talking with a very successful businessman who told me what he found most fulfilling. You might think he would list all his achievements, but instead he said, "It's that I've been able to use my position, wealth, and influence to help other people." The smile on his face matched the joyful story of how his company had been used to sow seeds of blessings into so many people's lives.
He could smile because he had fulfilled the God-given desire that's inside each of us to succeed and to achieve in life. It started when He told Adam, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion..." (Genesis 1:28). But it's a mistake to think that achievement and success are what cause us to be great in the kingdom of God or what will bring us fulfillment and happiness. I believe that God wants us to accomplish great things, but He wants us to do it with the right heart. Jesus' concept of greatness in those who follow Him is found in serving others, and it's the standard He set: "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).
It can be hard to wrap our head around servanthood and a great life. Our culture doesn't teach us that servanthood is the key to success. What we see is people manipulating others, stepping over people, and doing things to try to gain more authority and power. But Jesus gave us the ultimate example of greatness at the Last Supper on the evening before His betrayal, trial, and crucifixion. When He overheard some of the disciples disputing among themselves about who was the greatest, He reminded them that He was among them "as one who serves" (Luke 22:27). Then in John 13, to show His disciples the meaning of greatness, He knelt down and washed their feet. The message He wanted them to understand before He left this earth was that service is the greatest thing in the kingdom of God.
When we reflect back on our life, we want to see a life of greatness, a life well lived. God wants you in a strategic place because He wants you to make a difference in this world, but He also wants you to know that it's through your service, it's through your giving, it's through stooping down when it's not convenient and washing other people's feet that you will be made great. Let your life shine in greatness!