march 18th - Servant
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matt 20:25-28 (NKJV)
If you grew up with siblings then you already understand the idea of "Sibling Rivalries." Often, in the struggle to gain the attention of a parent a child will both strive to win the approval of the parent and put down their siblings in order to emerge as the "better" child. This is the kind of self-serving behavior that we expect from children, but this is where we judge children too harshly while not perceiving our own "adult" behavior accurately. Even adults strive to win the approval of the people that matter to them; but, too often at the expense of others.
Jesus, as usual, is right in His observation of mankind. In the secular world, those in power lord it over those that are under their authority. I think that this is more often the case rather than the exception. Some people really like to have authority and power over others. There was a time where I was the "whipping boy" in an organization. I worked hard and dealt with my relationships with a good deal of integrity, but was on the receiving end of criticism; no matter my performance. What a miserable time!! What an extravagant opportunity for God to bring a greater measure of humility and patience into my life.
What people experience IN THE CHURCH should be very different than that. In the Church, leadership should be expressed and measured by servant-hood. Those who lead the Church should do so by example. Translated: They need to serve by putting the needs of others before their own! Pastors were never called or meant to be little kings who rule
over the laity. Authentic Christian leadership must strive for, and exercise Godly humility. That is the only way we can truly follow in the footsteps of the Great Shepherd. Jesus literally poured out His life to serve our needs--how far down that road are we willing to travel in order to follow after Jesus?
Time for confession: Changing dirty diapers or flat tires is not my "thing." In fact, I have a long, long...make that very long list of things that are not my thing. My list points to a problem in my life. I don't really like being the servant. It rubs me the wrong way. Which means--time to change dirty diapers and flat tires--time to take on the long list of things that I'm reluctant to do. Time to be more like Jesus and be a servant.
Author's Note: Where does being a servant start? In a practical sense it starts where I live. I need to serve my wife--my kids--my grand kids--my parents; and that's just for starters. I also need to serve my neighbors, my friends, my church family, and anywhere else that I see a need. I don't need a break from serving, I just need to keep my priorities straight. I am certainly not saved by my works; but, I am indeed saved to serve. First question of my day--Lord, how may I serve Your purposes? RJD