FIRST OR LAST?


The Upward Look
By Jon Forrest
A church group traveled through Turkey to visit the sites of the seven churches of Revelation. As their bus went down a dusty road, they noticed up ahead a man riding a camel.
The group stopped their bus to take a picture. It was only after they stopped that they noticed that behind the rider and the camel was his wife walking along. With the help of their interpreter they asked the man, "Why are you riding while your wife walks?"
"It is simple," he replied, "she doesn’t own a camel."
I suggest another reason; the man was self-centered and cared only for his own comfort and health. Perhaps he was a misogynist with no respect for women. But one thing is certain, no one ever taught him to be a true gentleman. For many, the art of selflessness has been lost.
Jesus taught us “…the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16) But how many of us believe that enough to put it into practice?
When I was a small boy the small-town congregations my dad served as pastor frequently held what we called, “fellowship dinners.” I loved those dinners because the ladies from the church brought their very best dishes of food and deserts. The people would line up around the room and the prayer would be given for the meal. I was so hungry that, during the prayer, I would slowly walk toward the table of food so I could be first in line. This worked a few times, but I remember the evening when I had crept to the front of the line. As “Amen” was pronounced, I reached for my plate when I heard it, my father’s booming voice declaring, “JONNY! Go to the back of the line!” I was busted! Actually, after church that night I probably was literally busted. I learned a lesson that night in Matthew 20:16. My attempt to be first, put me all the way back to last. Yes, I deserved everything I got that night.
It takes practice to learn what Jesus meant about first and last. Jesus always put himself last, but this practice taught his disciples to see him as first. Actually, the lesson Jesus was showing us was about true leadership. Today, people who want to be leaders tend to push themselves to the front of the line. Political leaders strive to make us think they deserve to be first because they seldom if ever admit a mistake, no matter how severe or costly the error.
True leadership is respectful of other.
It places others ahead of the leader and strives to build others up. Such leaders can be the true Agents of Change in the world around them. If you want to make a difference in the lives of others and turn the world right side up, be the kind of leader who sees him/herself as last and others first.
This Sunday we will continue our series of messages called Agent of Change, Elisha – God’s Man of Purpose. This is an unusual message from one of the strangest stories in the Bible. I have titled it God Is Not Mocked. It is based on 2 Kings 2:23-25. Come join in the fun and bring someone with you.
Last man standing,
Jon

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