12 After he washed the disciples’ feet, he put on his robes and returned to his place at the table. He said to them, “Do you know what I’ve done for you? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you speak correctly, because I am. 14 If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example: Just as I have done, you also must do. 16 I assure you, servants aren’t greater than their master, nor are those who are sent greater than the one who sent them. 17 Since you know these things, you will be happy if you do them.
How many times have I chosen to be more comfortable in a position of entitlement and the maintenance
of some level of respect from others than I have in the service of others. Jesus, however,
sets the example of what it means to be great
as a person, a leader,
a teacher, a fellow sojourner in the
community of faith. He washes his disciples’ feet and commands that his disciples do so for one another. Although
this is a simple act, it is a revolutionary one, initiating a radical ethos for communal life and the expression
of outward love that is difficult to
live into on a day-to-day basis. Jesus in his act of foot-washing turns
the cultural norms of status and importance upside-down.
As a minister
eager to get out and 'serve the
Lord', I've wanted to do great and epic things for the Kingdom of God. I’ve imagined myself gaining influence, establishing a large
social media platform, and making
visible differences in thousands of lives. The
trouble is, when circumstances do not play out so epically, or when the call
becomes a grind and is not so glamorous, I become frustrated and lose heart. When on tilt like this, I become
over-sensitive and obsessed with my place
(or lack of place) at the table,
and I tend towards the uglier expressions of ‘living out.’
The discipline of servanthood is good medicine for power-sickness or relational ambition. For me, a good practice towards servanthood begins with listening. Listening with my eyes and listening with my ears. I need to see the people around me and allow my anticipation of their needs and my clearing space for their voices begin to replace my personal ambitions and obsessions. To be still and listen to what a person is saying in a busy world requires patience and humility. The temptation to gather people around us to serve our own agendas and lord ourselves over them is a strong one—so is the temptation to order resources, systems, and air-time around us to manipulate advantage/gain/sense of self-worth. I pray for God to grant all of us the stillness and humility to see as he sees and to go where he goes--even if he is leading me to lowly places where there are no props, only dirt and sweat and a simple basin of water.
When is it hard for you to serve? Who is it hard for you to serve? Does servanthood have any merit or power in our culture today?