A new "style" of politics is needed to meet the challenges of the next 10 years, Gordon Brown has said.
The chancellor outlined a "patriotic vision" of governing, involving "responsible, active citizens" more.
Key challenges ahead included an "unprecedented" security situation, the environment and the economy, he said.
Although widely tipped to take over from PM Tony Blair later this year, Mr Brown told the BBC he was "not making any assumptions" about his future.
Asked on BBC One's Sunday AM if he had "had that conversation" about whether he would take over before or after May's local elections, Mr Brown said: "No, and it is not for me to make that announcement or decision."
Mr Blair announced at the Labour Party conference in September that it would be his last as prime minister, but he has yet to set a date for his departure.
Mr Brown sidestepped questions about the day-to-day operations of leadership, such as whether he would use the prime minister's Chequers residence.
"I'm not interested in the trappings of office, I'm interested in what you can do to help people," he said.
"I think there is a job to be done for the future of Britain. The next 10 years will have challenges that are quite different from the last 10 years," he said.
"It needs a new kind of politics in the country and it needs a new style of government for the future."
He said a new approach would involve "the talents of the wider community in government".
"It's going to have to be for the future of our country - that's why this is a patriotic vision.
"The idea of the state being an overbearing state, which a lot of people have associated with the governments of the past, that cannot be the government of the future."
Instead he described the state as being "the servant state" prepared to listen to the people.
Education, described by Mr Brown as his "passion", would be a priority.
"We used to talk about education, education, education. Now it's excellence, excellence, excellence."
He said investment in education would increase, there were be "more choice" in the classroom and children should be kept in education until they are 18 years old.
Mr Brown defended Mr Blair's style of government, often referred to by critics as a "sofa cabinet" where a select group of advisers gather in an informal setting to make decisions.
"I don't accept that, I think that's unfair to Tony Blair who has been a brilliant prime minister and an excellent leader of the Labour Party, and who has taken very brave and difficult decisions on so many occasions for which he should be applauded," Mr Brown said.
He also said he "will be frank" when dealing with the US administration, emphasising that "the British national interest is what I and my colleagues are about."
Left-winger John McDonnell is the only person who has publicly declared an intention to contend the PM vacancy, which is due to come by next August at the latest.