“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 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 20:26-28 NIV
A few years ago I was attending my son’s state cross country meet. As I glanced over my shoulder I saw a man wearing an Army Ranger shirt. He looked military and sounded military. You have probably heard that if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s probably, you guessed it… a duck. Now I have to admit. I was in awe. Throughout my upbringing, I wanted to be an Airborne Ranger. I really, really wanted to be an Airborne Ranger. I had the official Ranger handbook and started working on those skills when I was a young teenager. Now on this October afternoon, I am hung up on this definite concoction of masculinity, honor, service and respect as I tried to get the gumption to spark up a conversation.
I finally mustered up the nerve to step over and start talking to him. We spoke as if we had known one another for years. He was surprisingly upbeat as he told me about the seven tours he had accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thanked him for his sacrifice and service and told him about my time in the Navy working on F/A-18 aircraft. Although I felt a little small in the shadow of this well-spoken and seasoned Army Ranger, he made a big impact on me. He affirmed my service. He affirmed something in me that I had never really believed until that day. He said, “You guys were force multipliers on the battlefield. We knew that when you guys were around we were going to be okay.” Suddenly I didn’t feel small any longer. I felt like an equal, a valuable contributor, and a force multiplier. This has been etched in my mind ever since and makes me think of some other “force multipliers”.
Every man (and woman) can become a force multiplier for good! A force multiplier multiplies and maximizes potential in others. Jesus, the ultimate force multiplier, has much to say about how to be a force multiplier for good. On a spring day in the bustling city of Jerusalem, the mother of James and John asked Jesus for a favor, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21 NIV, 2011) You have to admit that’s a bold ask. Not surprising, this sparked anger and jealousy in the other 10 disciples. Jesus opposed their selfish ambition and self-importance by making them look at their motives. It even made Peter speechless. I can only imagine the tension and anticipation in this moment. What would Jesus say next? Maybe they were even wondering what they did wrong? Maybe they thought they were entitled to the position? We may never know, but what we do know is Jesus’ message refined greatness and purpose for the citizens of Heaven.
Greatness comes from service to God and others not positions of authority over others. Jesus connected the dots of greatness, usefulness and service. Notice how the Apostle Paul described a husband’s role and responsibility in a marriage covenant. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25–27, NIV84) God’s purpose for the man in marriage is to serve and sacrifice for his wife like Jesus did for the redeemed. Husbands serve God by serving and sacrificing for their wives.
Men become force multipliers when they stand in the gap for others. This game changing reality turns selfish ambition on its head. The man’s way to greatness is in service to God and others. A man needs to know the true purpose for his masculine strength or he will abandon or abuse it. I believe that men want to be honorable. For instance, little boys in church hear the compelling stories of Joshua, Moses, David, Gideon, and Jesus. Their little hearts swell with big dreams of being like these men. Did you notice that all of these men obeyed God and served others in their various roles?
Deep in the recesses of brokenness and regret, a man’s heart may have life but no vision or pathway for his masculine traits to be rendered useful. The vision is right in front of you and the time is now. In many ways, a man can become whom he chooses to be. If a man wants to be a force multiplier, he surely can.
Discerning Reflection: Would God be happy with the way I serve and lift up others? Would people around me say that I serve and sacrifice for the right things? Who is it I need to start serving so I can be a force multiplier? What do I need to do now?
Prayer: Father, please help me to live a life of service to you and others. I will let your kindness lead me to repentance if I have failed, so I can glorify you and bring good into my world.
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