Downward Mobility


By Matt Green

My years in publishing and communications have given me appreciation for an intriguing headline. A recent NPR caption earned the proverbial chef’s kiss: “A broken toilet on SpaceX capsule means astronauts will return to Earth in diapers.”

Of all the components that could have catastrophically failed on a space capsule, I suspect a broken toilet is a minor inconvenience. However, I’m sure it inspires some humility on the part of the astronauts. Although they had reached a pinnacle of success and achievement, joining a select group of humans (and a few unwilling animals) who have traveled to space, alas, they are still mortal. Still constrained by bodily processes outside their control.

Imagine refusing the opportunity to travel to space merely because of the possibility that you may need to don a diaper for your return trip? For most of us, I’m sure this is a humiliation we would be willing to endure for a chance to see the sun rise along the curvature of the earth.

Likewise, imagine refusing the opportunity for significance in the kingdom of God because, as Jesus taught us, the way upward points down. “Anyone who wants to be first,” He said, “must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

For some leaders, servanthood may be seen as a means to an end—the temporarily inconvenient process it takes to earn a seat at the big kids’ table. However, those with experience will attest that the humility (and sometimes humiliation) that leadership requires is a qualification that never goes away. In fact, the more one achieves, the more humility is required to properly steward the responsibilities that come with that achievement.

Of course, this “downward mobility” was not a hypothetical journey for Jesus—or for His disciples. Quite literally, the creator of the universe entered the world He had formed in diapers, poetically renamed “swaddling clothes” for our Christmas songs. With that example, how much more should we be willing to humble ourselves for the opportunity to serve in His kingdom?

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