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Background Text: Mark 10:43-45

Devotional Text: 1 Peter 4:10-11

The Holy Bible, both Old and New Testaments, uses the word servant hundreds of times with various meanings. This week, I am specifically looking at what it means to be a “servant of Christ,” or “a servant of the Lord.”

Many people do not like to use the word servant today because of its connotation of inferiority.

Rest assured, to be the Lord’s servant is not to be one of lowly status. It is to be appointed by Jesus Christ to serve his will and his ways, in order to live a better life, a life full of God’s goodness and even surprises.

When Jesus came to Earth, the most knowledgeable Scripture about his own servanthood is found in both Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:43-45. In this portion of Scripture, the disciples did not understand what Jesus said about his coming agony, while also disagreeing about which one of them should come first.

In response to their disagreements, Jesus stated, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave (servant) of all. For even the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus did not come surrounded by angels serving his every need. Though he was the son of God, he did not appear as royalty, but as a flesh and blood person, teaching as a simple prophet or rabbi.

Throughout the New Testament and its teachings, we learn about having a servant’s heart, how to become a faithful servant, and the meaning of being a servant leader.

Jesus had a servant’s heart. He had compassion for people — the sick, the dying, the disabled and so many more. He helped people in all circumstances, whether they be Gentile or Jew.

As we read through the gospels of the New Testament, we find Jesus showing us the attributes of being a servant leader. He put the needs of others first; he helped people to grow in their faith and to learn to be kind and merciful toward others.

Jesus had an unselfish mindset, as he taught his disciples to follow his ways and prepared them for his death and resurrection.

I remember a course I took years ago that was offered through the chamber of commerce in the community in which I lived and worked. I was a newspaper editor at that time and participated with other community leaders, such as the chairman of our county legislature and a member of the sheriff’s department.

The class, presented by the Kellogg Leadership Institute, taught us how to be good employers. The tenets of the course reminded me so much of servant leadership. We were taught to listen to employees and their needs, to offer wisdom, to recognize accomplishments and to help others achieve their goals.

An employer who exhibits the ways of a servant leader is not bossy, and does not make a big deal about his or her importance. The kind of leadership we were taught generates faithfulness among employees, helps people to grow in their jobs, and portrays a good atmosphere in coming to work each day.

Serving With Love and Compassion

As we continue with resources found in the Bible for living in our world today, we find many uses from the teachings of Christ. It begins in the home, where we show love and compassion for one another. That same love and compassion extends to hospitality toward others.

We do good things like donating items we no longer use. We grow trusted friendships. We join volunteer organizations to share our God-given talents.

We mourn with those who are grieving, and we celebrate with those who are joyful. We follow the nudges of God. We are not afraid to speak about how God has been with us in our own personal lives.

One definition for being a faithful servant, according to the Bible, is to be a devoted and helpful follower, to be humble before God, to be ready to act as God nudges and inspires us, to help meet the needs of other people, and to remember that it is not about money or reward.

The apostle Paul, in the opening of his letters to the Romans, Philippians and Titus, along with Colossians 1:23, speaks of himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ.”

Jude, half-brother of Jesus, does not open his New Testament letter by declaring his biological relationship to the Messiah. He too introduces himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ.”

To be a humble person is very often misunderstood. It has nothing to do with feeling like a worthless lump. It has everything to do with attitude. As the great Christian writer C.S. Lewis explained in his own definition of humility, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”

Even as I sit here writing this column with Christian music playing in the background, as is often my habit, I am listening to the last part of the refrain from the song “Less Like Me” by Zach Williams, in which he sings, “a little more like Jesus, a little less like me.”

I leave you with these words, found in 1 Peter 4:10-11: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

“If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.

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