Despite some serious religious training under the Rabbi Gamaliel and a lifetime committed to following the one true God, Paul saw himself as the least of the saints. He seems genuinely surprised that God would dramatically reveal to him the errors of his religious thought and not only enlighten him to the truth but allow him to expand the kingdom into the Gentile world. (Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had a Damascus road experience to show us our erroneous thinking?)
The word minister is the Greek word diakonos which means waiter, servant, or administrator. As a former waitress I can tell you that it isn’t as glamorous as it is on TV shows. You run around, killing your feet & back to try to meet the needs of others. And that’s what Paul did. He didn’t seek power or glory, he worked as a servant of God trying desperately to meet spiritual needs people didn’t even always know existed.
Paul realized that he was a minister because God had made him a minister, not because he chose a career path. Paul had power because he understood that his power came from God. When we as Christians live in humility and service God’s power flows through us, working all things for his good. But when conceit rises up or we start to do things through our own power then trouble begins.
As MacArthur said, “You see God will release his power to flow through his servant [but]as soon as I begin to exalt myself, glorify myself, lift up myself, do my own thing, I'm not serving God anymore. I'm competing with God. And I forfeit his power. And it's over. And that's the end of my ministry. Now with the crowds may still come and the people may still show up, but there's no power.
“Humility is what maintains the servant's heart and that's what lets Christ rule my life and flow his power through me. And sometimes I'm not willing to pay that price. And sometimes you're not either. All we want to covet a reputation, we want to covet honor, personal charm. We want to use our forcefulness to sway people to our opinions. And we get ourselves in the way of the power of God. And as soon as the heart is filled with self ambition, as soon as its filled with self-glory, then I've lost a servant's heart, humility is gone and the power is cut off.”
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:3-9 (ESV)