This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve… (Matthew 20:28)
Jesus also said, ‘Yet I am among you as the One who serves’ (Luke 22:27). Paul’s idea of service was the same as our Lord’s—‘…ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake’ (2 Corinthians 4:5). We somehow have the idea that a person called to the ministry is called to be different and above other people. But according to Jesus Christ, he is called to be a ‘doormat’ for others—called to be their spiritual leader, but never their superior. Paul said, ‘I know how to be abased…’ (Philippians 4:12). Paul’s idea of service was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until he did come to know Him. But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord.
…The institutional church’s idea of a servant of God is not at all like Jesus Christ’s idea. His idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of others. Jesus Christ actually ‘out-socialized’ the socialists. He said that in His kingdom the greatest one would be the servant of all (see Matthew 23:11). 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—that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God.
I cannot add anything to this brilliant observation. But I can tell you the parts that the Holy Spirit is really working in my heart:
- “…called to be a ‘doormat’ for others—called to be their spiritual leader, but never their superior.” God, help me to keep my pride in check.
- “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.” May I never shrink back from willingly serving at the lowest level of society.
UPDATE: This idea of servant-leaders plays prominently in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.