Because of human nature, it is easy for us to make everything about ourselves, instead of about Christ. But out of love for us, He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father, giving Him all the glory, so that in Christ’s death, we could also be credited with His obedience. That said, for we who are His servants, we are to be careful to not make our work of ministry about us.
Paul, one of His servants, exhibited this in his letter to the Savior’s people in the city of Corinth. This particular congregation of His people struggled much with division, specifically about by whom they were baptized. In light of this, Paul wrote,
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. – 1 Corinthians 1:17
Jesus did not send him to baptize, primarily. Yes, He did command the church to make disciples, baptizing them, but the primary responsibility that He gave His apostles was to preach the gospel. Often, they had others baptize new converts, that they may continue to focus on the task at hand.
In saying this, Paul was chiseling away at their wrong thinking, that there was some sense of honor of being baptized by him or someone else. No, baptism is not about the person baptizing; it is about Christ. New believers are being baptized into Him, identified with Him.
So, rather than His sending Paul to baptize, He sent him primarily to preach the gospel, the message that He died in the place of sinners, and everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
And Paul is to be commended in the fact that he did not use words of eloquent wisdom, though he certainly could have; God equipped him to speak well on His behalf. But Paul chose, with this audience, to not speak in words of eloquent wisdom, for fear that it would empty His cross of its power. That is, he was careful not to take any credit for anyone’s conversion. He rightly acknowledged that it was Christ’s work, along with His Father and the Holy Spirit, that gave a sinner new life.
So, Paul did not make his ministry about himself. And he didn’t want anyone to make it about himself. Christ would have us follow him as he follows Christ. Remember that He laid down His life for us. He showed us what it truly meant to not make it about oneself, as He went to the cross for sinners like us, to the glory of His Father.
His expectation is that all of us be serving Him in some capacity. Whatever we do, we mustn’t do it for our own glory. Do it for His, and He will give us great joy, in His glory. Serve with humility, and exalt your Savior. And behold, He is with us.