Taking the very nature of a servant . . . he humbled himself. (Phil. 2:7–8)

We call them heroes: military service members, firefighters, police officers, and others like them. What raises them in our hearts is not just that they serve, but that they willingly and literally place the lives of others before their own. They rush into the burning building while others flee or risk the bullet to save another. What makes them great is that they put themselves last.

The greatest example of this, of course, is Jesus himself. Paul beautifully reminded us how Christ, fully God, gave up more than we could ever imagine and humbled himself to be a man, even to death. This is the example we are called to: the true Hero who put himself last. For this He is exalted (by God first, and then by man).

Greatness through serving is not a matter of doing nice things for people, although that is always a good thing. And it’s not being a doormat, since we must care for ourselves so we have the inner resources to effectively help others. It’s a humble heart like that of first responders and military members—a heart that sincerely says, “I come after you.” We may never be called to literally lay down our lives, but we can do so in a figurative sense every day. Then we become great—maybe not in the world’s eyes at first but certainly in God’s.

Find one opportunity today to place someone else before yourself . . . and take it.

Diane Gardner lives in northern California. She enjoys oil painting, theater, community festivals, and quiet evenings at home.