I begged the Lord to take it [thorn in the flesh] away. Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. ~ 11 Corinthians 12: 8-9
Sheesh! Let's just admit it--we want to be great! But to be ruthlessly honest, Jesus' career path model isn't always the one we have in mind--taking the last spot in the line, or serving people until there is no one left to serve. Nope, like the disciples, we prefer climbing one rung higher on the leadership ladder, or maneuvering one seat closer to the CEO. Prestige would mean we could do more to "serve." You know what I mean--from a position of great strength, rather than one of wobbling weakness. Jesus' question reveals that our logic is about as flawless as our self-advancement is shameless.
In the midst of such grandiose philosophizing, Jesus intrudes on our thoughts and asks, "What was that monologue you were having with yourself?" Like the twelve, we don't want to answer. Jesus' rubric for measuring greatness is quite different and not nearly as glamorous.
But answer, we must.
For me, it's a tough learning curve. In the prime of life, you must lean on a weakness that is leaning on God's grace. In the kingdom stage of life you divest yourself of the assets of power people desire. The "thorn in the flesh" is deeply embedded, and life has unfolded in such a way that you must advance God's way, or not at all. Simply put, if God's power is not resting on you, you have no power.
But last place is a wonderful place. We have more--when we have less. We are stronger--when we have never been weaker.