When comparing the culture of the world to the culture of the kingdom, Jesus gave this command in Matthew 20:26: “But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”
We hear a lot about servanthood but what does it really look like? What does it really mean to serve well?
For me, the answer to that question is found in thinking about an individual who faithfully serves their spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, tending to their needs motivated by the lifelong love they have shared. The answer is seen in the parents who, day in and day out, deal with the difficulties of a Down’s Syndrome child, yet remain joyful and hopeful. The answer is demonstrated in the individual committed to the cause of serving the poor, the disenfranchised when no one else is around or cares, and yet they press on. It is seen in the person who is so committed to the church of Jesus Christ that they attend faithfully, work diligently, invite unchurched people relentlessly and give sacrificially because they believe in the mission handed down by the Savior. (Just a thought: What would your church look like if everyone participated in these activities the way you do? Would your church thrive, just exist or have to close the doors?)
So often, like everything else in our society, we make serving about us. We want to do something to assuage our guilt, to make us feel better about ourselves. That is not, nor should it ever be, the motivation for serving. Serving well goes way beyond a onetime act of kindness like holding a door, carrying a bag of groceries, or, if we really go the extra mile, shoveling someone’s walk (just a reminder, it is coming) or cutting their grass. I think it is going to the next level of commitment; committing not to a onetime act, but sacrificing (that’s a word we don’t use too often anymore) space on our agenda to actually make a long-term commitment to an individual or group. I’m talking about being willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of others. Paul put it this way: “So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.” (2 Corinthians 12:15) I am very thankful that Jesus held nothing back but, rather, gave everything he had for me. Aren’t you?