Thursday, March 23, 2006

40-Days to Servanthood: Day 19

A willingness to be served by others can also be an act of servanthood.

Let me tell you about a man I once knew. His sudden death, seemingly in the prime of life, came as a shock to everyone. One phrase was used repeatedly to describe him: "He was a nice guy.” I knew that this was true. He was a nice guy. But I knew something else: He had been terribly unhappy.

"I'm everybody's doormat," Mr. Nice Guy once said. "I don’t mind doing things for others. But I never seem able to muster the courage to ask anyone else to help me."

Often, nice-guyism is at least partially motivated not by love for others and certainly not by a desire to respond to God’s love given to us through Christ, but by a desire to feel important.

Richard Foster writes of the night Jesus spent with the apostles before He was arrested: “When Jesus began to wash the feet of those he loved, Peter refused. He would never let his Master stoop to such a menial service on his behalf. It sounds like a statement of humility; in reality it was an act of veiled pride. Jesus’ service was an affront to Peter’s concept of authority. If Peter had been the master, he would not have washed feet!”

As a pastor, I’m often given special treatment by other Christians. Because of that, I try to incorporate service into my daily relationships. I don't want to take advantage of other people or risk viewing myself as some sort of privileged person. At a wedding reception one night, I was going to refrain from getting my food, which was being served cafeteria-style, until everybody else had theirs. But as I sat at my seat, the bride’s father approached me. “What would you like to eat, pastor?” he asked. “You don’t have to get my meal,” I told him. A somewhat hurt expression crossed his face. He said, “I know I don’t have to do it. But I want to do it.” It would have been the cruelest act of arrogance on my part not to let that man serve my food to me.

A willingness to be served by others can also be an act of servanthood.

Bible Passage to Ponder: “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me...She has done what she could” (Mark 14:6, 8).


purple_kangaroo said...

That's so true. Sometimes our pride and selfishness keeps us from allowing others to be blessed by serving us. That's a false humility that can really be hurtful to others.

Ishi & Love said...

If you can believe it or not, I grew up in a farmhouse where love was to wash the others feet at the end of the day... Round basin in the middle of the floor and sitting there, he let her (his future wife) wash his feet. Farmers feet get really dirty... I never put an importance until I had a friend come by and wash my hair. It is very hard to let others do for us... But it is very joyful when appreciated and thought of afterward. Very good comment and subject.


Mark Daniels said...

Purple and Ishi & Love:
Thanks for your comments. The refusal to allow one's self to be served can be a subtle arrogance, a way of controlling others by making them always feel beholden to us.

I appreciate your stopping by here.