Becoming Great Through Humility and Love

by Mark Votava


As a man living in North America, it is extremely hard not to let my ego define my identity.  I have struggled within myself to find a way of gentleness, kindness, love, compassion, and grace.  Having confidence that all of these aspirations live within me, sometimes they get buried beneath the tough ego of my “American masculinity.”  It is so countercultural as a man to live the way that Jesus taught as a servant to others in the place that I live.

  • A revolutionary spirit of humility and love

Our challenge is to find a revolutionary spirit of humility and love within us that will carry over into all our relationships in the parish.  We need this revolutionary servant spirit in all we do.  The revolution starts with taking the place of least importance.  It begins with embracing a humility where we become a servant of others, and we see life through the paradigm of servanthood and not as an individualistic North American.

  • Greatness is in becoming a servant

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  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 20:25-28)

  • The implications and risk involved

This is such a disturbing passage of Scripture.  Either we do not understand what Christ is talking about or we do not want to, because of the implications and the risk such a command would require of us as the body of Christ.  And yet this is an entirely different outlook on life that if followed, can change our priorities and place our relationships on higher ground.

  • Our relationships become the central focus

Our relationships become the central focus in our lives when we become the servant of all. Christ is teaching us through this Scripture that greatness comes only when we honor one another by  embracing a way of life where we humble ourselves by becoming a virtual slave to others.  Christ is not playing games with what he defines as greatness.  He lays out that it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, greatness is about becoming a servant to others in the place where we live.

  • Men have a little more trouble with this than woman

Men have a little more trouble with this than woman.  It seems funny to me that most of our leadership examples are men who usually miss the boat and who have all forgotten what it means to be great according to Christ’s definition.  Women seem to understand this form of greatness better than men do since it is more natural for them to perform acts of care, love, neighborliness, and collaboration.

How can we create a life around becoming a servant to others?