Service as a Discipline…

I remember working in management before I entered ministry. Things were falling through the cracks and everyone was focused on what “was” and what “wasn’t” their job.

Debbie was out, and we had another nurse step in and cover for her. At one point on this particular night, a person had an “accident” in the bathroom by the nurse’s offices. We made a call to housekeeping, but before they could come, Someone needed to use the bathroom. When the fill-in nurse came to ask me about it, I told her “It’s not my job.”

It’s not my job…

It wasn’t long after this that I saw her, someone who was helping us out, cleaning the bathroom. It just seemed wrong, but I didn’t go down to offer to help. Over the coming weeks, I tried to get in touch with her so we could get her address to send her pay to, but she never returned my call. And we lost a potential helper when Debbie was unavailable.

I wish I could go back and change that day. It was true that “technically” it wasn’t my job. But I was the leader, and I showed poor leadership by thinking that I was above the work that needed to be done. It is a lesson from the 90’s that I haven’t forgotten.

When Jesus got ready for the Last Supper with His disciples, it was customary for someone to wash their feet. Since it was just their group, who would condescend to be the one? As they were entering Jerusalem a few days earlier, they were arguing about who was the greatest. Who was going to take this lowly position?

Who was going to take this lowly position?

Jesus rocked their world, and as He often did, He turned their world upside down. By washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus showed a humility that was counter to the world. He understood the need to serve, and that servant leadership had to start at the top.

“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.’” John 13:12-17 NIV

Jesus did what needed to be done.

He didn’t wait for it to be an issue. He saw the need, knew the place His disciples were in, and Jesus just did what needed to be done. Throughout His life, Jesus did what needed to be done, finalizing His willingness to do the dirty work when He chose to go to the cross for our sins.

And after doing what needed to be done, He told them what they needed to learn from His example.

He didn’t wash their feet and then say, “from now on I will be the one washing feet,” but “you should do as I have done for you.” He showed them an example of how things were to be done, and then expected them to step up an act the same way.

As we look to the future, are we willing to do what needs to be done? There is plenty to do for the kingdom of God to grow, regardless of what church you are part of. And Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has work for us to do. He doesn’t say that He has glamorous work for us to do (necessarily), or that He has work that will get us awards, but that He has work for us to do.

Are we willing to seek His will to learn what He would have us do, and then do it?

Lord, in this life we tend to desire the greater things. The things that will get us noticed, the things that people will admire us for. Lord, give us humble hearts, that we might live more like You, doing whatever it is You desire for us, that in serving others, we will actually be serving You. We pray in Jesus’ name…

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