“What do you wish me to do for you?" Jesus asks. "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left," they reply.Think about it. These two disciples are asking Jesus to name them as his right- (and left-) hand men, designating them as his chief lieutenants. James and John may think that Jesus is going to overthrow the Roman government currently occupying Israel, and that they will get key cabinet posts in the new regime. Certainly they are not asking to be at Jesus’ right and left sides when he is crucified.Jesus is quick to redirect the disciples’ ambitions. "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them,” he points out, “and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you.”It shall not be so among you. Would that this lesson would take hold in our own era. We live in a culture that cultivates, celebrates and richly rewards self-promotion, even arrogance. Jesus says his followers should be different. Rather than compete to claim power and leverage authority, we are called to be servants.Great ones who make their authority felt. As we go through another election season, the public media report (again) candidates’ claims of superiority, and their demeaning of opponents. Most of it is done in the name of “what the American people want,” as if any of us enjoy venomous, mean-spirited “debate.”Jesus says his followers should be different. Rather than compete to claim power and leverage authority, we are called to be servants. “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant,” he says. “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be last of all and the slave of all.” This is an entirely different version of greatness — one that is typical of Jesus’ ministry. He acknowledges all that we want — we want our lives to be rich, rewarding and meaningful — and then he shows us a different way to receive these things. We can manufacture our own greatness, or we can get real greatness from God. And, as always, he leads by example. “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” If the Son of Man did not promote himself, who are we to think we should? Service is the path to the greatest life of all.Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected].