When Being First Means Being Last

By: Ginger Hughes

I’ve had the opportunity to observe a lot of people recently as our family enjoyed some fun-filled days at Disney World. Standing in lines for elevators, restaurants, rides, ice cream vendors, and yes…even bathrooms, afford you a lot of time to watch and listen.

As we’ve gone about our days, I’ve noticed so many kind people. People who hold the door allowing you and your tired kiddos to walk through first. People who motion for you to go ahead of them in line, and those who give up their seat on the bus so you can sit down with your tired little one. There are those who bend down to pick up the park map that fell from your overstuffed bag, and those who pause long enough to make eye contact, smile, and ask where you’re from as you both wait for your order number to be called so you can enjoy more chicken tenders and fries.

But as we’ve waited, I’ve also noticed something else…some people are determined to be first. The thought of motioning another person ahead of themselves is a foreign concept. The idea of standing up on the bus to allow an elderly person to sit down never crosses their mind or if it does, they stifle the prompting. I’ve watched some practically push their way to the front of the line all to get “there” a few minutes quicker.

One morning my daughter and I were waiting for the elevator and had been for some time. Just as we heard the elevator to our right “ding,” and were about to step toward the opening door, another family with several children and two strollers quickly walked up and onto the elevator with barely a glance in our direction. Their family filled the elevator and we were left standing there, waiting once again.

It seems we have this natural desire to be first and to get ahead. We’re tempted to go through life trying to push our way to the top, to get “there” no matter the cost. Whether we’re talking about motioning for that person with only five items in their grocery cart to go ahead of us at the checkout, or whether we’re trying to climb the proverbial ladder in our careers, society teaches us to look out for number one. We live as though our schedules and plans are so important that there isn’t any room to think of others.

In the ninth chapter of Mark, Jesus tells His disciples, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant to all.” And perhaps this is why so many of Jesus’ teachings aren’t very popular in today’s society. They go completely against the culture.

The idea of being last doesn’t feel good. The idea of serving rather than being served doesn’t either…at least not at first glance. Yet as a Christ follower, this is what’s expected of us.

We act as if letting someone in front of us will completely wreck our plans. We live as though our dreams, hopes, and goals are the most important. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with having big dreams, perhaps we’d do good to remember that the very best goal is always about helping others.  Because at the end of this life it won’t matter in the least if we made it to the “top” if we climbed over and stepped on others to get there.

What will matter?

Did we love God?

Did we point others to Him?

Did we help others along the way?

-Ginger Hughes is the wife of a pastor, a mother of two and an accountant. She is a Georgia native currently living in the foothills of North Carolina. Her passion for writing is fueled by the desire to offer encouragement, grace and a deeper understanding that we are all God’s children. Her blogging for Nurturing Faith is sponsored by a gift from First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Ga. Additional writings may be found at nomamasperfect.com.

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