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Luke 14:7-11 He put forth a parable to those who were bidden, when He marked how they chose out the chief places, saying unto them, “When thou art bidden by any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest place, lest a more honorable man than thou be bidden by him,and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, ‘Give this man thy place,’ and thou begin with shame to take the lowest place.  But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest place, that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then shalt thou have honour in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.  For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

There is a lot more to “taking the lower seat” than just where you sit at a social gathering.  The principle is, in fact, very similar to what Jesus was saying when he admonished us to “take up our cross daily”.  

In the context of leadership it means not being selfish with the resources available and not seeking to glorify yourself or make yourself look better than you are.  Taking the lower seat can take many other forms as well.  It may mean letting someone else speak first, or letting them have the best or biggest portion of food.  It may mean taking the worst distributing spot, even though it will make you look bad if you get fewer books out than someone else.  It may mean doing more than your fair share of work without complaint.

So, in order to really occupy the lower seat, it takes a lot of forsaking.

But taking the lower seat does not not mean you should be passive in directing and correcting others spiritually.  Taking the lower seat is very similar to becoming a servant; but don’t forget that servants still have responsibilities.  We should be servants to one another; but we are also servants of God, and so we have a responsibility to love and teach our fellow servants.  This may mean correcting or admonishing someone when they are wrong.

A big part of taking the lower seat is being aware of the needs of others around you.  Sometimes people take the highest seat without even realising it, just because they were not aware of the needs of someone else who required or deserved attention more than themselves.

As Jesus said to his disciples (Luke 22:25)  the kingdom of heaven is not like the kingdoms of men.  In temporal kingdoms the leader sits on a throne and wears a crown to represent authority.  Although leaders in the kingdom of heaven are (and should be) respected, their authority needs to come from faithful service and humility.  The more we learn to put the needs of others above our own, the higher we will get in the kingdom of heaven.

You can practice this in many ways from big to small.  It may mean talking quietly when you notice someone is concentrating, or giving your jumper to someone if you think they are cold.  It may mean putting in extra time on final touches with a job you are doing, so that it will be easier for the person who comes behind you.  It may be picking up not only your clothes, but those of others as well.

The Apostle Paul said, “Bear your own burden,” but he also said, “Bear each other’s burdens.”  Taking the lower seat means learning to care for your own needs, and then learning to help with the needs of others as well.  It means being willing to step down so that others can step up.

Jesus said that “if you will lose your life for my sake, you will gain it,” and taking the lower seat is one way we can lose our lives for him.  We “take up our cross” by taking the lower seat.

But remember that when you do take the lower seat, God sees it, and he rewards you.  How much better to be invited by him to take a higher seat, than to be ashamed for being selfish and proud by taking too much!

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