Flipping the Script—It’s Not About Me

Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV)

Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV)

What a great message for a brand new year. Especially after coming off such a difficult and challenging year. 2020 left us with expectations of a grander future. We began to understand the meaning of gratitude. The meaning of self-reliance. The meaning of perseverance. The meaning of humility. The meaning of service. Hopefully the meaning of repentance. 2020 found us flipping the script in order to survive. It wasn’t just about me.

A great example of service and especially leadership is Juwan Howard, Coach of the Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team. At the Power Five conference Michigan vs Iowa State basketball game Coach Howard was seen wiping the floor of sweat during the game. What an amazingly selfless act. Howard’s leadership was on full display.

How is that leadership you ask? How does one show leadership by doing something so menial? Coach Howard got down on his hands and knees and began wiping the sweat off the basketball floor. When was the last time you ever saw a coach doing something like that? Well, maybe never. But that’s what leadership and service look like. Don’t get so high and mighty that you can’t or won’t get on the floor and wipe up the sweat.

 In our passages, the Church is dealing with unity issues and Paul is addressing this. He starts by calling out selfishness (vs. 3) – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Maybe Coach Howard was onto something. Maybe he knew this.

From the Garden of Eden until now we find we are selfish people. We have a propensity to be selfish. We find it’s our way or the highway. We look at things through our perspective and rarely take the time to look at it through another’s lens. In Paul’s time, they are dealing with the same issue of selfishness.

Take stock in your life. How does selfishness look in your marriage or your relationships? Selfishness can cause disharmony and bring us down – yet we want our own say, don’t we? Paul says to flip the script – by being more like Jesus.

Remember the What Would Jesus Do bracelets? Why would we want to do that? Because Jesus got it right. (vs 6-8) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Photo by Andrew Itaga on Unsplash

As Paul goes through his journey the scandal of his message is that Jesus dies. How does a messiah die? It’s the scandal of Jesus. He takes on human form. How is that? Jesus wasn’t a Lord who lorded over others. He wiped up the sweat. He humbled Himself. Jesus thought about us and emptied Himself of His divinity for us.

How do you humble yourself? By putting others first and leaving your selfishness at the door. Paul goes on to say what does it mean to make God your priority (vs 9-11) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God calls us to do divine work in this world. Jesus did that kind of divine work. He served yet He led. How does that work? Leaders don’t serve—do they? Well, yes. First, you must serve. You can’t possibly be a good leader without serving others first. You must have a priority in your life.

When we flip the script and realize it’s not about me, we discover that Jesus is the Lord of all life. How does your priority inform what you do in life? Does Jesus drive your agenda or do you hold to the premise that it’s all about you?

 Let’s look at the word priority. There is a history behind words and the word priority is no different. The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s as a singular word. Meaning it was one. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Then in the 1900s we pluralized the term and started talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow, we would now be able to have multiple “first” things. So I wonder—should we have pluralized it? Probably not. It’s not logical to mess with words in that manner.

The new year brings with it a new opportunity. What will your priority be? Will you flip the script and put others first? Who will you lead toward a better life? Who will you serve? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Now, think back. When was the last time you knelt on the floor and wiped the sweat? If you want to be great – serve. Happy New Year!

Photo by Moritz Knöringer on Unsplash

            And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!