As Christians, we are called to serve. Jesus sets the precedent for that with this statement in Mark 10:43-45:
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
One of the ways in which we as Christians most identify with and reflect Christ to the world around us is by taking on the identity of a servant. There are many blessings that come from serving – strengthening the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:14-26; Eph. 4:15-16), administering God’s grace (1 Pet. 4:10), showing Christ’s love (Gal. 5:13; John 13:35), enhancing our Christian witness (Mat. 5:16), to name a few.
No one will deny that we should serve or that it’s beneficial for us to serve. However, if we’re honest with ourselves, the reality is that we often don’t want to serve. Not only is it contrary to our nature, but it’s also difficult. It’s inconvenient. We’re fatigued. We’ve been serving for so long and no one ever seems to notice or say thank you. These statements are true of all of us at various points in our lives, and it certainly doesn’t help that we live in a culture that’s constantly preaching self-fulfillment, self-realization, and self-gratitude.
So how do we combat the selfishness of our own hearts and become servants? It begins by first resting in the fact that Christ has served us perfectly, meeting all of our needs for forgiveness, fulfillment, and joy. Freed from having to acquire and achieve those things for ourselves, we can begin to move outside of ourselves and worship God by striving to meet the needs of others.
Here are six simple things we can implement in our lives that, if done consistently, I believe will help us grow as servants of Christ and others. These are applicable everywhere: at home with our families, in our workplaces, in church, and beyond.
- Identify something that no one else enjoys doing, and do it without complaining or using it to accumulate “points”.
- Identify something that needs to be done and for which you’ll receive no recognition or appreciation, and do it.
- Identify someone else whose work regularly goes unnoticed and unappreciated, and say thank you.
- Identify someone who you dislike and if given the chance would avoid, and purposely look for ways to bless that person.
- Ask the right question. In Mark 10:35-36, the disciples ask the wrong question, and Jesus answers with the right one. Make a habit of regularly asking this question (the opposite of what the disciples asked) to the people in your life: “I want to do for you whatever you ask of me. What do you want me to do for you?” This doesn’t mean you’ll automatically do whatever that person wants, but it does communicate that you love them enough to ask and listen.
- Pray. Paul, in the middle of an exhortation to Christians about taking on the identity of a servant, writes in Philippians 2:5: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (emphasis mine).” This is already who we are; regardless of whatever our natural tendencies may be, God has given us a new nature and a new identity in Christ. Included in this new nature and identity is having the mind of a servant. Pray that God would strengthen that part of your mind and increase your enjoyment of reflecting and representing Jesus in that way.