Mark 9:30-37

I love a parade! As a high school band student I played the bass
drum. The preparation, practices, and formation drills led up to the
day of the American Royal Parade in Kansas City. Once on the bus
we laughed, talked and made lots of noise as teenagers. However, when
we got to our spot on the parade route our band teacher, A.T. Estes,
made sure we were ready to march. Our spats were white, hats on
straight, band uniforms clean, instruments tuned and we were in
straight lines ready to take off when the drum major gave the signal.

The job of the drum major was to be out front and set the pace. They
seemed to get all the attention and the band members were just
another black uniform in the row. After all, the drum major usually
wore white, had a tall hat with a plume, carried a whistle to tell us
when to move and carried a bright gold/silver baton to tell us when
to strike up the band. It appeared like an easy glamorous job.

The truth is the drum major’s job was anything but easy. He/she had
to work extra hard to learn the steps, keeping the pace, know the
music by heart and lead the band. When one of our rows was out of
step (and with our band that wasn’t unusual) the drum major had to
leave the front and get us back into formation.

In this scripture it appears that the disciples all wanted to be the
drum major. They saw the job as glamorous and each of them wanted to
be the “greatest” in the band. By the time they arrived in Capernaum
it had become obvious to the band director, Jesus, that he would have
to help them understand that being a drum major isn’t all glamorous .
. . in fact it would take hard work wrapped in a servant’s heart.

A Servant’s Heart begins in the Service of Humanity. (v. 30-32)

We are called to be the salt and light to a bland, dark society
desperately in need of help. If we are to serve the people of this
world there are three ideas that Charles Swindoll describes as
servants of humanity.

1. “I am different.” Christ makes the difference between what we
look like and the world we live in now. We cannot serve humanity if
we get sucked into prevailing culture and conform to society’s

2. “I am responsible.” Christ makes the difference between whether
we live in isolation or integration. Our job is to be in the world
making a difference, but not of the world’s evil influence.

3. “I am influential.” Swindoll writes, “Let’s not kid ourselves.
The very fact that we belong to Christ – -that we don’t adapt to the
system, that we march to a different drumbeat – -gives us an
influence in this society of ours. We are influencing others in our
every behavior, be it good or bad. Even when we aren’t trying, out
comes the salt and on comes the light.”1

Take a moment and reflect to whom you are trying to be salt and light
in this world? Is there anybody that you are influencing for Jesus?
Have you curled up and refused to make a difference because it may
take work? Can people see a difference in your life versus theirs?

A Servant with Love at the Core. (v. 33-35)

The twelve lost sight of what service to people was all about love!
They saw it as one-up-manship and that was not Christ’s concept.
Love was to be their individual and corporal work. Their job as
servants was to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe
the naked, shelter the homeless, call on the sick, visit the
imprisoned, and love unselfishly.

That is still the role of the servant today!

A Servant’s Heart ends in Humility. (v. 36-37).

God is looking for band members who realize they aren’t going to be
drum majors. Contributing to the good of the band is top priority!
That comes by surrendering life to the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

Patrick Morley wrote: “It is not that the Holy Spirit empowers a
person to become more dynamic, eloquent, and persuasive – though all
these may possibly come. Rather, it is that the Holy Spirit helps
you to become nothing to yourself, you ‘become less.’ Not servile,
but a servant . . . Don’t ask the Holy Spirit to increase your skill;
ask Him to increase Christ.” Then Morley adds, “The servant no
longer wants to become a great man of God; he wants to become less.
His love for the Lord Jesus becomes such an intense fire that he
abandons all desire to be liked, to do a good job, to have a winning
way, to be great man of God. He loses interest in who holds first
place. He stakes out his claim on last place. His highest aim
becomes for Christ to increase, for himself to decrease.”2

Our prayer ought to start with a confession that too often we have
the desire to be first no matter who we step on to get to the goal.
We need to acknowledge that our ways have been selfish and that today
we want to give up our selfish ambitions. Call out to God to fill
you with His Holy pursuit to greatness. Ask God to help you to no
longer be confused between his will and your will. Have a childlike
faith in the God of higher goals. Let God know that your highest aim
is to be like Jesus!


Sermon brief provided by: Derl Keefer, Adult Development
Ministries Coordinator in the Sunday School Department, Nazarene
World Headquarters, Kansas City, MO


1. Charles Swindoll, Day by Day (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000), 326.
2. Patrick Morley, Walking with Christ in the Details of Life (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), 128

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About The Author


Rev. Derl Keefer pastored in the Church of the Nazarene for over 30 years. He currently serves as the Adult Development Ministries Coordinator for the Sunday School Ministries department at the Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center. He received his B.A. in Religion from Southern Nazarene University and his M. Div from Nazarene Theological Seminary. His other books include Let's Get Committed, Wedding Sermons and Marriage Ceremonies, and Open Doors.

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