“If Anyone Wants to be First, He Shall be First”

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First-FirstThe title above expresses the unspoken mantra that drives much of our Church world. The mindset is that God’s elite are those who accomplish big and visible results. This often leaves “ordinary believers” feeling as though their lives don’t really matter.

The truth is that this man-centered, superstar-driven mentality is “from the world.” We have our iconic celebrities, talented musicians, gifted writers, ingratiating media personalities just like the world does. The unspoken inference is that the important people in God’s Kingdom are those who have achieved fame and fortune. Not only does this “success-is-everything” mentality create a system that is ripe for slick-talking, ear-tickling charlatans, but it also leaves laypeople feeling as if their efforts to please the Lord don’t mean much.

My personal opinion is that many of the accomplishments of famous Christian leaders that seem so huge from a worldly perspective are overrated. I have been around enough famous Christians to realize that they are just people, and from God’s perspective, they aren’t much different from you and me.

One day each of us will stand before Jesus Christ where our lives will be examined. Our thoughts, motives, attitudes, words, deeds and everything else pertaining to the way we lived our lives will come under the all knowing, all seeing eye of the One who did it perfectly. I can assure you that Jesus Christ is not impressed with best-selling books or popular radio programs. He will be looking at the motives that drive people’s actions. In short, He will reward those who truly loved and served other people.

The disturbing reality is that talent has a lot more to do with advancement in the American Church than does godly character. In fact, some of its biggest stars are the most prideful and self-centered people in the Church. I say that because outward success tends to foster pride and selfishness in the best of folks. Fame has ruined more men of God than we can imagine. I know because it could have easily ruined me.

Within the first couple of years of ministry, I had shared my testimony before millions of viewers on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other national media programs. Where does a young minister go from that heady beginning? I’ll tell you where: down!

Let me make my point through a small incident that occurred recently when I found myself seated next to an elderly lady on a one-hour flight. I resisted my natural tendency to bury myself in a book and, instead, “got out of myself” and engaged her in conversation. She lit up when I began to ask her about her children. By the time we reached our destination—which was a layover for both of us—I had the whole “scoop” on her family. When we deboarded, I helped her find the gate for her next flight. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she hugged me and thanked me. Why? Simply because I took the time and made the effort to show her that I cared.

How does that insignificant incident compare to me sharing my testimony before millions of viewers? The truth is that when I appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, I was still very much full of myself and it has taken twenty-five years of being disciplined and humbled by God and being taught what the important issues are in His kingdom to get me to the point where I would take a genuine interest in a lonely old lady.

I believe this is where God is taking all of His people. Jesus said it all in Mark 9:35: “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” What this tells me is that the way to make a splash in God’s Kingdom is not to do something big and flashy, but to love and serve other people in your daily life. That’s the way to be first in God’s kingdom.

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About the Author:

In 1986, Steve founded Pure Life Ministries (PLM), the first ministry in the world to sexual addicts. Over the years he and his wife Kathy did their utmost to create a spiritual atmosphere for men who entered the PLM residential center. It was part of God's plan for him to begin this ministry, but over the years the Lord laid a burden on Steve's heart to call the Church back to holy living. In 2008, Steve stepped down from running PLM to devote the rest of his life to exposing the great apostasy, calling people to repentance and leading Christians into an eternal perspective. Follow Steve Gallagher on Google+
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Comments

  1. Greg Gordon  December 2, 2013

    “but to love and serve other people in your daily life. That’s the way to be first in God’s kingdom.” Dear brother Amen. A very powerful article and it touched my heart today. May God continue to decrease self in my life and exalt Christ. “Deny Self” is a command of our Lord to all His disciples.

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    • Glen  December 2, 2013

      Amen Bro amen

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  2. Denise  December 2, 2013

    A very good and needed article, thanks Steve. There are too many “celebrity pastors” these days. Sadly, one of the ways to have a large church is to leave out parts of the gospel like repentance, forsaking sin, hell, death to self. The biggest and richest pastors who have the largest congregations usually teach “What God can do for you”, making “your life now” the primary focus.

    It’s not about what God can do for you, it’s about what God already has done. He so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die for our sins. That’s enough for me!
    “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” 1 Timothy 6:8

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  3. Marc  December 3, 2013

    Hi Steve. In this mixed up world of celebrity pastors and rockstar worship leaders, it is so refreshing to read of the journey God has taken you to humility. It is a lesson that all of us need to learn. You are wise enough to see that it is God who is leading you to the “mind of Christ.” May the Spirit bless you with more opportunities to serve and help others, including myself, become “last” in the kingdom.

    Marc S.

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  4. Joel  December 4, 2013

    “I can assure you that Jesus Christ is not impressed with best-selling books or popular radio programs. He will be looking at the motives that drive people’s actions”. Thank you pastor Steve, thanks!

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  5. Ted Heath  March 4, 2014

    Wow…………I love that because it is so true. Even though I could not articulate that I recognize as complete holy ghost inspired truth. I wish all American Christians could read this what change would occur if they took it to heart.

    Yes pride and selfishness the two primary components of our fallen canal flesh can—–wreck havoc and how extraordinarily it can become. There has been times I’ve ben so clueless. love the wonderful
    renindrer………………..
    Is there much weightiness, tuff love , accountability in the pulpit anymore? Yes it flows like river hear at Eternal weight for which Im grateful.

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