This week I was reading from the book called Humility by C.J. Mahaney (2005 Multnomah). One of the best statements from this book is an overlooked aspect of what Jesus teaches the disciples in Mark 10:42 and following. The disciples James and John are talking about what it means to be "great." They request to sit at Jesus' right and left in glory. Unfortunately, they were thinking from a worldly perspective. Then, as Mahaney points out, "the Person [of Christ Jesus who owns all things, Col. 1.] standing there" is "making this statement": "whoever would be first among you must be slave to all" (vv 43-44).
Mahaney mentions the word "must" in verse 44; that it implies a thing which is required/indispensable. Mahaney emphasizes there is nothing wrong with striving to be great. That is, so long as greatness comes from what pleases the eyes of the Son (rather than our own view of what great is). Jesus says "whoever would be great among you must be your servant...." The part that is missed: "Jesus does not categorically criticize or forbid the desire and ambition to be great." Instead it is radically changed so that greatness means something completely opposite to the world's view.
In light of this a few things can be drawn out for contemporary American church. These are not what Mahaney mentions to my knowledge. First of all, servant evangelism is extremely reasonable for kingdom greatness. Second, when it comes to denying self and making your church an attractive and comfortable place rather than a place to dump your leftover sofas and old tvs; service opportunities abound. Third, the church should engage an ambitious American culture with the greater ambition that Christ calls us to in pursuing His kingdom (this will connect). Fourth, removal of false humility among spiritual looking people in churches. Pretending to be ineffectual and ill planned as a Christian does not mean anything good. I've met so many Christians who act like they don't know how Christ would have us to live with a changed heart towards others. Rather make wise plans that humbly acknowledge good work and admit the effectiveness of what Christ calls us to. This allows you to challenge unbelief and unbelieving lifestyles by means of speaking up about what is really great, rather than cowering to the world's greatness like so many and say "I am just a Christian, what do I know about how the world ought to be." Fifth, showing people the glory of God is more important than showing them your glory. If you can deny self and pride by the Holy Spirit's power as a Christian, then you can melt or break through ice packs in people's hearts.