If anyone wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all. (Mark 9.35, CSB)
This saying of Jesus flies in the face of our worldly culture and the constant barrage of information, social media, and news that we consume on a daily basis. Saying that Jesus call us to a life that is counter-cultural is somewhat cliché, perhaps here more than in most other places. From the time we are young schoolchildren, we are taught to strive to be the best. I hear parents talk obsess daily about their children's GPAs down to the hundreds of a point. People uproot their families and move across the country to train with specific coaches who are touted as the best in their respective sports. Most workplaces reward achievement and output while all but ignoring humility and selflessness. Jesus' eleven Greek words turn the world and its outlook completely upside down.
As St. John Chrysostom wrote, "If you are in love with precedence and the highest honor, pursue the things in last place, pursue being the least valued of all, pursue being the lowliest of all, pursue being the smallest of all, pursue placing yourselves behind others" (Chrysostom, Homily on the Gospel of St. Matthew).