Chapter OneSession 1
THE BIG PICTURE
What is the message of our culture today? What is the common
thread of thought that weaves its way through almost
everything we do? What is the core value that drives and
guides the lives of most people? All we have to do is walk
around in our society and we will begin to develop this particular
mind-set almost by osmosis.
It is a "me-first" mind-set. This mind-set says indulge yourself,
fulfill your desires, satiate your appetites, pursue pleasure,
take off all restraints. As much as we might want to pretend
that this value system died in the eighties, let's be
honest: it is alive and still thriving.
With this mind-set comes an elusive promise: If you seek first
your own good and satisfy your own desires, then you will be
happy. In print, on television, and in the movies, over and
over we hear the lie. The road to contentment, satisfaction,
fulfillment, and true joy is marked with a street sign flashing
The truth is, this perverted and backward view of life is leading
to modern day madness. Our society is on the verge of
internal collapse. Escapism is running rampant. Perversion of
sexuality has become almost common fare. Unwanted pregnancies
by the thousands are being terminated every day.
Men and women walk away from their commitment to
spouse, children, job, and many other life responsibilities
with growing ease. People are pathologically self-centered
and ignore the needs of others. The "me-first" mind-set is controlling
many lives, even the lives of those who call themselves
followers of Christ.
A WIDE ANGLE VIEW
1 What are some signs that the "me-first" mind-set is
alive and thriving in one of these areas:
In the marketplace
In the church
In your country
In the media
A BIBLICAL PORTRAIT
Read Mark 8:31-38
2 What do you learn about Jesus' view of Himself in this
What do you learn about Jesus' view of His followers?
3 Jesus was clear about His commitment to suffer and
die for His followers. Why do you think Peter tried to
stand in the way of Jesus' plan?
Why was Jesus' response to Peter's resistance so severe?
SHARPENING THE FOCUS
Read Snapshot "Grappling with Greatness"
GRAPPLING WITH GREATNESS
Jesus tried again and again to expose and attack self-centeredness in His disciples. He wanted them
to have a "Father-first" mind-set but often saw their "me-first" mind-set prevailing. Once, while walking
down a road toward a city called Capernaum, some of Jesus' followers were debating among
themselves which of them was the greatest. In the gospel of Mark we read these words: "They came
to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the
road?' But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest" (Mark
Jesus had just preached a powerful sermon on servanthood, yet the disciples still did not get the point. In an
effort to drive the point home even more clearly, Jesus added: "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very
last, and the servant of all" (Mark 9:35). While the disciples wanted a position of greatness, Jesus called
them to have a passion for service.
4 What are some of the warning signs and symptoms
you see in your life when you are striving for a "position
What would your life look like if you developed a greater passion
Read Snapshot "Indiscriminate Service"
Jesus calls us to serve indiscriminately. In Mark 10:13 people began bringing little children to Jesus
so He would touch them. The disciples got angry and rebuked the crowds. In their minds, these little
children were not important enough to waste Jesus' time. After all, children weren't powerful people,
and they had no influence or authority, so Jesus shouldn't give them the time of day.
When Jesus realized what was going on, He became angry. He insisted that the disciples permit the
little ones to come to Him. He did not want them to hinder or get in the way of the children. He wanted His
disciples, and the whole world, to know that the kingdom of God belonged to such as these.
In receiving the little children, Jesus was calling His followers to turn from arrogance to humility, to stop
serving only those who could return the favor and to begin serving indiscriminately. Jesus was saying, "Change your
mind-set. Get off the 'me-first' bandwagon and adopt a 'Father-first' look at life."
5 What might our service look like when we approach it
with one of the following attitudes:
I will serve those who have influence, power, or
who can repay my kindness.
I will serve those who are like me . those whom I
understand and around whom I feel comfortable.
I will serve those with needs, regardless of their status,
age, or position in life.
6 Who were some of the people Jesus served when He
walked on this earth?
How does His example influence your view of whom you
Read Snapshot "I Want to Be First"
I WANT TO BE FIRST
Again and again Jesus drove the message home: Don't be consumed with a "me-first" mind-set. You
might think that after all of Jesus' clear teaching on the topic the disciples would have gotten the
point. But it had still not soaked in. In Mark 10:35-37, James and John approached Jesus and made
a "little" request. They said, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask." When Jesus asked
them what they wanted, James and John replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your
left in your glory." They wanted the two most prominent and powerful positions in the universe next to Jesus!
7 How does our culture encourage and praise those who
strive for positions of power and prominence?
How does our society treat those who don't compete for first
What implications does this have for the Christian who is
committed to following Christ's example?
8 Describe one area in your life in which you are
presently working to gain a position of power and
How do these efforts look in light of Christ's teachings on the
PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE
An Honest Look at My Mind-Set
Take time in the coming week to reflect on where you see a
"me-first" mind-set in your life. Make note of any indications
of a "me-first" approach to life in the following areas:
In your home
In your workplace
In your friendships
In your church life
In your social settings
In other areas
Filling Your Mind with a New View
Often our thought patterns are formed by what we feed into
our minds. Take time in the coming week to memorize the
passage below and to reflect on what it means. How does this
truth from the lips of Jesus impact the way you see yourself
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are
regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials
exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever
wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever
wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not
come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for
many" (Mark 10:42-45).