I thought the war over riding shotgun would end when my boys left elementary school.
Unfortunately, no. My boys are now 15, 18, and 20 years old. Two are old enough to vote and be tried as an adult. The youngest is about to get his driver’s license. But still the battle over who sits in my car’s front seat continues.
Why is calling shotgun important? Why does sitting up front for a drive that won’t last more than seven or eight minutes matter so much? Is it really worth all the arguing and manipulation and arm wrestling to secure the seat on my right?
It reminds me of two brothers and a mother determined to snag a throne on either side of a kingly Christ. When the other disciples weren’t looking, a mama and her boys approached Jesus with a proposition.
“Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21)
In the face of Salvation, they fretted about position.
Of course, we aren’t all that different from teenage boys and ladder‐climbing disciples. We do the same maneuvering when we invest in a friendship because of what the friend has to offer. Or when we manipulate a meeting because of the connections it might provide. Or when we dive into a ministry because of the status we’re seeking or the recognition we crave. We may not be calling shotgun in the car or asking for a throne next to a Savior, but we’re putting far too much emphasis on position and not enough on relationship.
Paul reminds us that Jesus had every right to claim a position. He had every right to call shotgun, but instead chose the backseat, a position of humble servanthood at the feet of God.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant . . .” (Philippians 2:5 – 6)
In the kingdom of God, the moment you start vying for position is the moment you lose it. Better to focus on kneeling and serving, especially if you want to capture a seat next to the Savior.