A Servant’s Heart

This week, I will strive to develop a servant’s heart.

Sometimes the ugliest part of the mission is the part that God is calling you to!

In Christ’s day, people didn’t drive Chryslers or ride Harleys. Most couldn’t even afford a cart or donkey. They got around mostly by walking. And no socks and shoes in those days: they wore sandals.

But it was a dusty region; when you got to where you were going, yuck … your feet were hot and dirty and smelly.

So they naturally developed a custom of washing people’s feet when they gathered for dinner. Take your sandals off, leave them at the door, go to your couch. No chairs — a low table in the middle, surrounded by low couches arranged like rays of the sun, with the heads pointed in. Recline on your couch, hang your bare feet off the end of it, and a slave comes by and washes your feet. Feels great!

But for the guy who had to do the actual washing of the actual feet, it wasn’t exactly pleasant work. In fact, in the Jewish culture, if your servant was a Jew, he was not expected to do any foot-washing. Let your Gentile slave do the dirty work!

And there was one other way that foot-washing sometimes happened. If your host wanted to express special affection or demonstrate tremendous respect for you —like if the President came to your house for dinner — then the host himself might wash your feet personally.

But in John 13, even though the Messiah himself is sitting at the table, we find nobody making any moves whatsoever toward doing the smelly job. Christ’s disciples — the 12 closest friends he had, who had spent three solid years with him day-in and day-out — didn’t get it. They didn’t make any move to wash his feet. And they sure didn’t make any move to wash each other’s feet!

Moreover, they were bickering over who would get the best jobs in the new government after Jesus took over as king! They still had an earthbound view of what Jesus was there to do — not a work in their hearts, just a “fix” for their circumstances. And they had a spirit of competition, not servanthood. They weren’t thinking in terms of how much God had given them, so that they could joyfully give to others. They were thinking in terms of how much they could get off of God, so that they could enjoy personal prestige and power.

Maybe I sneer at the disciples’ immaturity, but what about me? Am I willing to honor God in my ministry by taking on the wretched task that nobody else wants? Am I just as eager to do the under-the-radar job that nobody will notice as I am to take the high-profile project that everyone will applaud?

 
My Prayer for the Next Seven Days… Father, give me a servant’s heart. Let me eagerly embrace whatever role you offer me, regardless of its prestige or lack thereof. Just let me glorify you by giving it my best. Amen.

 

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
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About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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