John 13:12-14 (ESV)
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
What is a servant’s heart? Is it an attitude we are born with or one that can be nurtured and cultivated? Several of my girl friends offered their definitions of a servant’s heart:
- L: To do for others without an expectation of reward or gain.
- T: To do what you do, joyfully, for the Lord’s pleasure, not your own or any earthly person’s pleasure, without force, without needing recognition or reward.
- S: To be open to seeing the needs and desires of those around you and stepping in to ‘help’ without being asked.
- H: To do whatever needs to be done, whether it’s scrubbing a toilet, cleaning up someone who has been sick or teaching a class . . .
Years ago H and I learned a valuable lesson about service and the heart of a servant. Each year our church would host a Living Christmas Tree Banquet. The purpose of the banquet was an outreach activity for the unsaved. It was always a huge event. This particular year, we didn’t have enough dishwashers for the event. Pastor was not going to continue with the Sunday morning message until he had 10 volunteers to wash dishes. I don’t know about you, but I do not like washing dishes at all! It is a mindless, menial job that has to be repeated over and over and over again. We all sat waiting for people to raise their hands. Nothing; then H looked at me and up went our hands. It wasn’t about having a servant’s heart, we just wanted to hear Pastor’s message. I don’t know how many times during that week I grumbled about having to wash dishes. “Why couldn’t so and so wash dishes? Don’t they know we live 45 minutes away and have to find a babysitter?” My mind was on me and what I wanted or didn’t want, not on the outreach and impact this event would have on lives; unsaved lives that needed to hear about Jesus. The evening turned out to be one of the best evenings ever. My grumbling turned to joy as I worked alongside nine other people. Dishwashing was an opportunity to get to know people we occasionally waved hello to and to be a part of something far greater than me.
Why don’t people get involved in their churches or communities? Why don’t we have a servant’s heart? Here are some reasons (excuses or myths) as to why 20% of the people tend to do 80% of the work.
- There is nothing for me to do: Have you ever looked closely around your church or spoken with your Pastor about all the service possibilities? If you really want to serve, there is literally something for everyone.
- Someone else is already doing what I want to do: Then join them! There are very few people who like to work alone, and from my experience, someone working alone is probably doing so because no one else has come alongside to help. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV) “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone with he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
- That ministry or task isn’t important: There it is; the number one reason we don’t serve. We don’t think the task is important or in the lime-light or worth our ‘valuable’ time. And now for the totally transparent moment: while I hate to admit it, this thought ran through my mind on a recent task I did not want to do. Other tasks were far more important than mopping a floor about a bazillion times. I wanted to do something that I could take pride in; that I could point to and say, “Yep, I had a hand in building that, or painting this.” But mopping floors – seriously! Ok, here is where the rubber meets the road. A servant’s heart is not about you or me. It is always about someone else. Jesus humbled himself in so many ways. He set an example for us. My pride was getting in the way of my service. The floor needed mopped, and I was given that task. Every task and ministry is important. Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV) 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
- I don’t have any gifts or talents: Just as every part of our physical body has a function, so does every person in a church or community. Your talent may not be for singing or playing an instrument or preaching or teaching, but there is something you can do. Service is not limited to areas we are talented in. Step out of your comfort zone and learn something new. Write a note of encouragement, hold a sleeping or crying baby, read to a child, call a person who hasn’t been feeling well, or attend prayer meeting. 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV) 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
- Nobody asked me, so they must not need me: Forgive me for being blunt, but that is pride. Oh, I’ve been there and said that. Yes, it feels good to be asked to do something, but a servant’s heart doesn’t wait to be asked; it jumps in and (here comes the action verb) does.
Be prayerful and ask God how He wants you to serve. Listen to His call. Put your service into action.
In Love and Until Next Time,