Mark 9: 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
The word servant used here is “diakonos” which means: voluntarily sacrificing oneself for the needs of others. This is altogether different from the Greek word “doulos” which means “slave”. A “doulos” had no choice – he or she was in a servile position by force. But a “diakonos” was in a service position by choice. Jesus was saying that putting ourselves into a position where we are not seeking our own best position first will result in a greater blessing than any self-seeking we might desire. For example, in American history Benedict Arnold is despised to this day as a traitor. During the revolution, Benedict made decisions based on putting his own best position in first place and the result is that he was despised. On the other hand, Col. Robert Shaw of the 54th Massachusetts regiment voluntarily put his own best interests last for the sake of his men. What makes Colonel Shaw’s decisions even more remarkable, as a white man during the 1860’s, is that the 54th regiment was an all black regiment during the Civil War. At age 25, Colonel Shaw not only sacrificed his social interests to lead the 54th(during a time of unjust racial discrimination) but he also gave his life for his men. As a result, the 54th became one of the greatest regiments in the war. In fact, their example was credited by Abraham Lincoln who believed Colonel Shaw’s bravery and the sacrifice of the men of the 54th turned the tide of the war. When we willingly sacrifice our own best position for the service of others we make history in a very different way than when we try to put our own best interests first. What kind of history are you making with your decisions?