There is a towel draped above my bookshelf in my bedroom; it is white with a simple emblem stitched into the fabric— a purple crown with the words: Crown College Servant Scholar. I had the privilege of graduating with my Master’s degree fromCrownCollegeinSt. Bonifacius,Minnesota, and upon graduating, I was awarded this memento. It symbolizes the graduate’s commitment to go out into the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ as a servant leader, and every time I see that towel, I am reminded of the Great Commission and my role as a servant of Christ.
Just this past week, I was reminded twice more of this concept, and it gave me the incentive to write about what it means to be a servant of the Lord. In our hometown, we have a group called the Silent Messengers; they are primarily a group of young people who act as mimes and portray the life of Jesus in a truly unique fashion. Their presentation is set to music, and the participants pray and give up their voices to God before the performance begins; at its conclusion, they pray and take their voices back. It is simply incredible to watch this presentation year after year as Easter approaches. Each time, my heart is drawn to something new, and this year was no exception.
About halfway through the drama, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet prior to the Lord’s Supper. In this particular scene, the young man playing Jesus goes from one disciple to another— moving down the line and washing their feet. As this is happening, a song is playing, and the disciples are actively portraying its message in their miming. The song is one that I have known for years, an old Sunday School standard called “Make me a Servant.”
For some reason, I was particularly drawn in by the lyrics of the song when I attended one of their performances last week: “Make me a servant, humble and meek. Lord, let me lift up those who are weak. And may the pray’r of my heart always be; make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant, today.” As I watched and listened, I was focused on Jesus as He moved from one disciple to the next— kneeling before each one and humbly washing what must have been very dusty and calloused feet. In Biblical times, people walked from city to city wearing only sandals; for Jesus to wash His disciples’ feet meant that He was taking on the task of a servant in that it was a duty that servants took upon themselves when visitors would enter a home. He was truly humbling Himself before them in washing their feet.
I can’t begin to imagine what that moment must have been like for both Jesus and the disciples. As of yet, the disciples were not aware that their Teacher would soon be led to the cross and crucified for the sins of all mankind. But Jesus knew what was to come, and in that moment, he exemplified true servant leadership.
We may not need to wash our feet before entering a home in today’s modern society, but the picture of servant leadership still stands. What would it look like to humble oneself before another and truly serve? What would it look like to come before Christ with the same servant’s heart, willing and ready to give Him all we have to offer? How can we reach out to others and draw them to Christ with no other motivation other than Salvation? To truly serve, we must be willing to set aside our own personal agenda and advancement to seek after the purposes of the Master. To truly belong to Him, we must come ready to serve. In taking on this servant role we may not see a reward in this life, but our reward is so much greater as we look to eternity.
As we move into Passion Week, the time in which we consider Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, may we remember His servant heart and seek ways in which we can truly serve Him. As I close, I leave you with these verses from Philippians chapter 2, which speak of Christ’s humble service to His father in Heaven.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).