Our staff is currently reading a book together called “Improve Your Serve” by Charles R. Swindoll. It has been a really eye-opening book that talks about our calling as Christians to be servants. Not only servants in our leadership, a topic often covered, but in everyday life! It talks about the Biblical call to servanthood, the challenges of serving and the influence we have when we serve others. While there is so much I would love to share about it, there is one topic that has continued to stand out to me as we read and discuss this book as staff:
Being a servant goes right against our natural inclination to be self-sufficient and self-focused and instead it challenges us to be God-dependent and others-focused. Something Swindoll says in the book is “..we constantly applaud the I-me-mine-myself philosophy in subtle as well as overt ways. We make books on the subject of selfishness bestsellers by buying them by the millions. We put the gifted on a pedestal and secretly (if not publicly) worship at their shrine. And we make every effort to ‘look out for number one’ at all costs. Let’s admit it, ours is an age of gross selfishness. The ‘me’ era. And we get mighty uncomfortable even when God begins to make demands on us.” The truth is God does call us to serve. Not just to serve those we naturally get along with but serving all people in our lives! Not just serving when we know it will be recognized but serving when there is no one to see it. Even serving the very ones who may persecute us! This call to be a servant is not always pretty. It requires humility, obedience and total dependency on the One who first served us.
Before Jesus went to the cross, he took on the role of a servant and washed the feet of His disciples. He said to them after doing this, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
We clearly see this call Jesus gave us to serve others but why is it such a challenge for us sometimes? I think often it goes back to what we talked about earlier: the idol of self. It’s hard to even see the areas we can be serving when we are more consumed with how we are being served or not being served enough. We are so consumed with our needs that we are blind to the needs of those around us. Sometimes we need a vision check!
I think about whenever I have to go to the eye doctor to get my prescription checked. They put a phoropter (the alien-looking instrument) over my eyes as I try to read the letters on the chart ahead of me. It usually starts off so blurry I can’t even see the words on the board but slowly, as they adjust the lenses, I begin to see clearly what is in front of me! I think this is a great picture of what we need in our own lives when it comes to being a servant. In a world full of books, articles, and blogs on self-help, self-fulfillment and personal success, I think it’s fair to say our focus is too easily clouded by the idol of self. Sometimes so much so that we can’t even see the needs of others around us. The only way to change this in our lives is not by mustering up something within ourselves but to let God and His Truth bring some clarity to our vision! As we depend on the strength and power of the Holy Spirit, look to the life of Jesus and apply God’s word to our lives, it slowly but surely begins to clear away the blurriness and brings clarity to our vision. It refocuses us first to Christ and then to others.
Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Christ is our perfect example of a servant. He lived His life serving until the point of death on a cross. He knows what He is asking of us when He calls us to serve and He also knows the very things that hinder us from doing that. But through His saving work on the cross, we can approach His throne of grace boldly! We can run to Him and depend on Him to give us what we need to walk in the ways He is calling us. Let us, in our pursuit of living the life of a servant, fix our eyes on Jesus and let Him bring clarity to see those around us the way He does!
Written by Abby, a staff member of YWAM Maui