He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 MSG
I'd say the twelve disciples may have suffered from some 'over-the-top' competitiveness from time to time, making them entirely human and just a wee bit like us. Do you find it satisfying to know that others needed Jesus to take them aside from time to time, sit them down, and have a heart-to-heart with them about just how crazy their competitiveness was? I kind of do, because it means I am no less human than they were, and no less in need of God's kind reminders that I am not the one who needs to 'stand out' - he is!
Jesus sits them down. Whenever I wanted to actually spend some time trying to deliver a hard message to someone, I usually asked them to sit down. We needed to be eye-to-eye and I needed to be able to see their body language and facial expressions. Why? Those things often let me know if I was getting through to them. I could 'read' their reactions to what was being shared and 'adjust' my message a little bit if I wasn't 'hitting home' quite as it was intended. I don't think Jesus differs - he often asks us to come away, sit down, and come face-to-face with him so he can share some pretty important stuff with us. In so doing, he is actually coming to our level - in order that he might give us his perspective in the matter.
These guys wanted the 'top seat', so to speak, in God's kingdom. In their minds, Jesus was coming to set up a world dominion - a kingdom he would rule and that would require other 'rulers' alongside him to assist him in those duties. It was probably much like having a Vice President and Secretary of State. They thought those 'top positions' should have been 'awarded' to one or the other of them, arguing publicly along their journey that day about who had more merit for these positions. Although their idea of how God would establish his 'rule' was a little bit off, Jesus doesn't start there. He focuses on the greater need - the 'rule' of their hearts.
Jesus is all about the heart whenever he speaks with us. He isn't about us getting everything right in our minds - he will help us get that right later - as soon as he has our hearts in the right order! We oftentimes get this a little out of order - we believe we should understand everything and then we let our hearts catch up. Jesus is just the opposite - get the hearts in order and the understanding will follow! Whenever Jesus takes us aside and has one of those 'heart-to-hearts' with us, we shouldn't feel ashamed for our attitude or behavior - we should feel blessed because he cares enough to get 'at our level' in order to help us put things in right order again! Just sayin!