12 Aug GROWING A SERVANT HEART
Greatness lies in serving others and also having a servant heart. There lies an immense struggle of power in and around us not only in the secular world but also among Christians. This is not only the issue of present day but even in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry we find His disciples having disputes about who was the greatest among them. It reached to such a point that the mother of John and James approached Jesus to give them place to sit at the left and right hand of Jesus. And Jesus had to tell them that it isn’t in His hands. He also had to remind them time and again that if anyone wants to be great he must be least and last of them. That means he must be servant and he must serve.
It is so easy to pay lip service to the concept of leadership as servants of Christ but in practice we stay far from it. In my own experience as an EU student and leader having the knowledge of Bible and leadership, having attended numerous camps and Bible studies, daily spending time with God, I struggle with my pride, prejudices and self-centeredness. Though it does not take hold of me completely yet I know how strongly it overpowers. I couldn’t help but make my prayer to God daily to take control of me and my feelings and let the Holy Spirit to correct me. Every single moment God has helped me to win this battle. We need to turn to God for help and also be willing to be corrected and obey (submit to) Him. We can’t let this stay in our life and still be fruitful and effective in our service.
When we get this ‘ME and I’ attitude, there’s a tendency to become angry when others do not listen to us or even become jealous and judgemental of others. And also become arrogant, bossy, easily offended, critical and unforgiving. I am not saying on the basis of what others have experienced but this is true and also which I have gone and go through many times. Especially when we are working together as a team, there’s a chance for our selfish nature to creep in. It requires humility to serve people and also take lower or insignificant position. When I say insignificant, it means in the eyes of people it is insignificant and lowly but in terms of God it is significant. Ephesians 2: 1-4 says, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfil my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Jesus Christ is the role model of servant leadership. Though He is God he took the image of human and came in to this world not to be served but to give His life as a ransom for our sins. Jesus, in doing this was glorified. (Ephesians 2:5-11) Who are we to seek glory and praise if we claim ourselves to be His disciples? This picture always comes to my mind when I think about servant leadership- On the occasion of last supper, Jesus getting up from the meal, taking off his outer clothing, wrapping a towel around his waist and pouring water into a basin, began washing each disciples dirty, sweaty and dusty feet because there was no house servant or slave to wash their feet and it was customary for a host to provide cleaning service. Jesus undertook the role of the servant and taught them to wash others feet just as He did. Let us consider this command of Jesus to serve others not becoming afraid or ashamed of people’s remarks, but willing to act in obedience. Oswald chambers puts it this way, “The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet.” It takes humility to do so. It is difficult and it will be difficult but let’s look up to our role model, Jesus Christ. The Scripture says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
There is also a chance of wrong motive to creep inside but we shouldn’t seek publicity and praise for our service because we desire to please God. Our motive of serving is not to become a superstar. We do not seek our own glory, but the glory of God. Christ remains the main subject and object of preaching and whatever we do.
Secular Authority : ‘Lord over’ Servant Authority: ‘servant among’
Power base Love/ obedience base
Gives orders Under orders
Unwilling to fail Unafraid/ model of transformation
Absolutely necessary Expendable
Drives like a cowboy Leads like a shepherd
Needs strength to subject Finds strength in submission
Authoritarian Steward of authority
Has gold, makes rule Follows golden rule
Seeks personal advancement Seeks to please master (Jesus)
Expects to be served Expects to serve
Let us be clear of one thing, when Jesus calls us to be servant leaders he is not simply calling us to be His errand boy or girl. He has not called us to do some low-key job. Jesus issues an order and we run to obey but in practice it’s the other way. As we continue to serve him we get to know more about him. We get into a new depth of relationship with him. In John 15: 14-15, Jesus says “You are my friends, if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you my friends.” It is more of being companion with Him sharing plans and secrets between each other. Such a great privilege to share.
I would like you to look at the following chart drawn up by George Mallone of Canadafrom the book ‘Learning to Lead’.
Let’s pause and reflect on ourselves daily. May His Spirit help us to see the blind side and give us grace to make corrections and continue in His service for His glory. And also we are called to make an impact in the world. Let us not limit our learnings within the Christian circle but be an example in our leadership when we are outside of our fellowship, church, Christian groups and organizations too.
USHIA RAI, Ph.D (Agri.extension) 1st year UBKV EU, WEST BENGAL