Yeshua gave us the example of being a
servant when He washed His disciples' feet. This was not a religious
ritual, but an example of serving someone else; serving in practical
details, in something dirty, devoid of honor.
"If I, your lord and teacher, have washed your feet, so ought you to
wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you
may do as I have done to you" (John 13:14-15).
We do not serve only because there is much work to do, but because
servanthood is a godly character quality. There are always plenty of
chores and tasks; however, if there weren't, we would have to invent
some in order to practice and develop this quality. The goal of
discipleship is to be conformed to the image of Yeshua, to become "just
like Jesus," to attain a Christ-like character. Willingness to
serve in the dirty details is a Christ-like characteristic. We can't
be like Him without it.
Do you know how to say "ministry" in Hebrew? The answer is: there is
no such word! The only word that has close proximity is "service."
Originally the word "ministry" meant attending to someone else's
needs, but today most people use the word ministry as a combination of
service and ego fulfillment. Our attitude should be: we don't
"minister," we serve. God wants to separate our serving Him from our
pride and ego.
The only way this can be done is to serve someone else's
vision. You will never know if your pride is separated from your
"ministry" until you serve someone else's. That is the necessary
instrument of separation.
"If you are not faithful in what belongs to someone else, who will
give you what belongs to you" (Luke 16:12)?
(Please re-read that verse.) Most people who come to "help" at a
ministry say, "God has given me this vision or plan. Will you bless it?"
However, the kind of language that would show a servant's heart
speaks differently. It says simply, with no strings attached, "How may
I help you?"
God gives us visions and callings in life. Yet the biblical pattern for
fulfilling a vision is: vision - death of a vision - rebirth of a
vision. Joseph had a vision of stars bowing down to him. He spent 13
years in jail before the vision started to be fulfilled. Moses had a
vision of saving Israel from Egypt. He spent 40 years in the desert
before that was fulfilled. Yeshua said the kingdom of God is like a seed
that falls into the ground and dies. After that it bears much fruit
(Matthew 13, Mark 4, John 12). When a seed dies, the chaff is separated
from the kernel. When our vision dies, it is separated from the ego
attachment (chaff). When it comes back to life, it is pure.
God calls us to leadership. However the biblical style of leadership is
servant leadership. There is no other kind. Yeshua told his
disciples that the one who leads should assume the posture of "he who
serves" (Luke 22:26). This could also be translated, "The one who
leads should be as one who serves." Leadership is simply serving on
a wider scale. As far as honor is concerned, there should be no
difference between teaching before thousands and cleaning a toilet.
In most societies, the one who serves is not looked upon with esteem.
The servant is seen as dishonorable. Biblical values on this subject are
contrary to the world system. Peer pressure and popular opinion will work
against you. To walk in servanthood, we must go against the values of
society around us.
"The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them ... Let it not be so
with you. Whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your
servant" (Matthew 20:25-26).
We are not speaking of the spiritual "gift" of serving (Romans 12:7).
That is a special grace, a charisma, for serving. Not everyone has that
gift. Here we are talking about the character quality of serving. That is
required of everyone. Character comes before charisma. Fruit is
more important than gifts. The character quality of serving is the basis
for all other gifts and callings.
We serve people. However, we are not merely serving them as human beings;
we serve the Lord through them. A wife submits to her husband, "as
unto the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). My wife serves me in a most
dedicated manner. However, I know her priority is to serve Yeshua first.
I come second. We have only one Lord.
"Servants, obey your masters ... as unto Messiah" (Ephesians 6:5).
Our service is not dependent upon other people's reaction. We have
only one desire: to be found faithful in the eyes of the Lord and to hear
Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21,
23; Luke 19:17).
Let us summarize these principles of servanthood:
- Serving is Christ-like character.
- We don't "minister", we serve.
- We serve someone else's vision.
- We ask, "How may I help you?"
- Vision - Death of a vision - Rebirth of a vision.
- All leadership is servant leadership.
- Character comes before charisma.
Let us follow Yeshua's example (John 13), strip ourselves of pride
(Philippians 2), and develop this character quality of servant hood.