Sadao Watanabe

Lent 2022 * Day 43

Scripture Reading:  John 13:12-17


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.

Service is the overflow which pours from a life filled with love
and devotion. --oswald chambers

Dirty Work

With some introspection, it's not hard for me to uncover areas in my life I've become more entitled, where I’m more dependent on insuring that people respect me than I am 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 human in the community of faith.  He washes his disciples feet and commands them to do likewiseThis is a simple act, but its revolutionary and establishes a radical ethos for communal life and outward love that is difficult to live into on a day-to-day basis. Jesus’ practice 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 reality falls short of the epic, and when the call becomes a grind with not so glamorous benefits, I become frustrated and lose heart.  When I’m 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 status envy.  For me, a good practice and first step towards servanthood begins with the discipline of 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 ourselves, to serve our own agendas, and to lord ourselves over others is a strong one—so is the temptation to order resources, systems, and air-time around to manipulate our own advantage/gain/sense of self-worth.   I pray for God to grant us the stillness and humility to see as He sees, and to go to and wait where He waits--even if this leads to lowly places with no prop-ups, but 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?