“The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. Not in the former but in the latter is the lack.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Life Together
The disciples were a contentious little group. It seemed they often squabbled among themselves like little children. One of their favorite topics centered on which of them was the top dog. You’d almost think they’d forgot that they had a leader, Jesus, the Son of God, no less.
After one such spat, Jesus took them to the spiritual woodshed and gave them this word of instruction,
“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22:25-27
In our culture, most people are seeking their own self-interest. If they have spare time, or if it ultimately helps their position in life, they might consider helping someone else. But by nature, we are selfish creatures. I am certainly including myself in this description. We desire praise and honor. We want to be first. We want others to help us.
The problem, of course, is that we purport to follow Jesus of Nazareth. Seeking our own self-interest above that of others is the opposite of who Jesus was and who Jesus calls us to be. So how do we as disciples of Christ, both as individuals and as members of the assembled Body of Christ, follow Christ’s example and become good and faithful servants?
First, we need to develop the attitude of a servant. This is perhaps the greatest barrier of all to servanthood. You see it calls for a renewing of our minds, a new mindset. As I said before, we are naturally selfish beings and we are indoctrinated by a culture that is permeated with the message, “Serve me!” The underlying motivation for being a servant is love. That’s why Jesus was willing to give up his position of honor and glory in heaven and come among us in the form of a servant. That’s why he was willing to die. Because he loved us. It’s why we should serve one another and our community. Paul said, “Through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” Galatians 5:13-14.
If we truly love our brother or sister, then being a servant will be much easier to do. In fact, we’ll want to serve. We need to grasp how deeply and totally we are loved by God through Christ and let that love grow in our hearts so that it overflows in love for others. We need to pray for a change of heart.
Secondly, we need to know where our service is needed. A servant can only serve when he or she knows what needs to be done. As we continue to listen to our community speak to us through the Koinonia Project, we are learning of the many opportunities to serve in Cabarrus County. Opportunities abound to be a servant of others. We need to make a concerted effort to discover the needs others have and listen with a discerning heart how we can best address those needs.
Thirdly and simply: serve! How many times have we felt badly knowing that we could have and should have served in some way but procrastinated or got busy with our own activities and missed the opportunity to serve? It’s not that we didn’t want to or that we didn’t love the person or even that we didn’t have the time. We just didn’t do it.
Having the loving attitude of a servant, having the attitude of Christ, will totally change the way we view every relationship in our life. It will change the way we view our Church and our community. Instead of focusing on what we want to get out of our relationships or out of the worship service or out of any particular sermon, or out of our community, we will begin to focus on what we can give to our Church and community. We are called to focus on serving God by helping others. We need to follow the example of Jesus and simply serve.
Who can I serve today? Who can you serve today? Who can we serve today?