This week, my writings will look at another attribute of being a Christian — God says I am His servant!
What first comes to your mind when you hear the word, “servant”? Is it a positive mental picture, or a negative one? In the American culture that I live in and write from, being a servant is not a popular goal. As children go around a group stating what they want to be when they grow up, you never hear someone say, “I want to be a servant.” Unfortunately, in the average life, good role models in being a servant are hard to find. Those that do serve well are filled with humility that makes them shy away from attention or being noticed. Others serve with a motive of being noticed and it often comes across as fake and self-serving — because it is. Yet many others simply don’t serve. It’s beneath them. They are too good, too important, too busy, to have the time or desire to serve someone else.
Even in the church, many times it is hard to find every-day examples of servants for the same reasons. A genuine servant is often un-noticed and un-recognized. Others serve with an arrogance and pride that serves themselves much more than serving others. Yet, many simply do not serve. Church after church that I have visited reflect the same problem. Not a necessarily a lack of members or attenders, but a lack of servants. You’ve heard it and seen it — perhaps even said it — right?
- “What, me shovel snow and spread salt? I thought we paid someone to do that!”
- “You want me to work in the nursery or teach a children’s class? I’m too old, young, busy, or already “served” my time!”
- “You want me to serve communion and take up the offering? I come to church to sit with my family!”
- “Visit the nursing home on a Saturday morning? I work hard all week and deserve to sleep in!”
- “Give items to the food pantry and help make sure hungry people have what they need? I work hard for what I have, so can they!”
- “Call and visit shut-ins, the elderly, and the sick? I don’t have the time and I have nothing in common with them!”
- “Work a week of church camp so young people can learn about Jesus in a incredibly intense environment? My vacation time is too valuable to waste doing that!”
- “Walk across the room and say hello to a visitor or stranger or someone who looks down and lonely? I don’t know them and wouldn’t know what to say!”
- “Give up my rights, desires, and preferences to benefit someone else — someone I may not even know or like? What planet are you from? Let them accommodate me!”
I could go on, but hopefully you get the point and have even seen yourself in some of this dialogue — I know I have. Serving is not natural. Serving says that the needs of someone else are more important than mine. Serving is about honoring and caring for the one we serve. Serving seeks to be invisible while at the same time accomplishing everything the “master” desires. A servant would never detract from or subvert the will and direction of his master.
That is why Mary’s response to the news that she was to carry and give birth to the Messiah, is so remarable. It is the genuine response of a servant; “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me according to your word.” Wow! Mary understood that as a follower of God, she was His servant. It didn’t matter if the task seemed difficult, demeaning, questionable, or even impossible — whatever God asked her to do, she would do it.
What would your life and mine be like if we sought God in everything? What if when the youth leader, director, or minister asked you to serve in the church nursery, your response is to God — “Lord, I am your servant, what do you want me to do?” Or when you see that lonely and hurting person, you said — “Lord, I am your servant, what do you want me to do?” Or in any of the other situations listed above or the myriad of possibilities encountered in life you and I said — “Lord, I am your servant, what do you want me to do?” What if we said it, and meant it, and acted as a servant in obedience.
A servant of God seeks to please only his master. I pray that you and I continually grow in our obedience as servants. God says that I am His servant! I pray that I constantly remember that and live up to His view of me.