The Navigators organization is a parachurch organization headquartered in Colorado Springs. Basically, it is an evangelistic organization that trains Christians how to share their faith. They also provide resources to churches such as study booklets and other literature. One thing they stress in their training is servanthood.
Lorne Sanny was once a president of the Navigators. A businessman once asked him how he knew if he had a servantlike attitude. He responded, ‘By how you act when you are treated like one.”
There is a lot that can be said about how a leader is supposed to serve. Certainly, Jesus turned the idea of “one man” at the top upside down:
24And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
25And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
26But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
At one time, UCG pushed the idea of servant leadership. It was renamed twice and ended up as the “Godly Leadership Program” (See United News, May 2005). In spite of denials that it disappeared, it seems that it has done exactly that. You never really hear much about it any more, if anything, from Cincinnati (however, I’m pleased to report that Garden Grove’s Homer Moore gave a sermon on it earlier this year, although I haven’t listened to it).
How much of a servant did Christ tell His disciples to be? Well, it appears that there are two words being used in Jesus’ statement in Mt 23. To be great, you have to be a “diakonos”, that is, a bond servant. However, in order to truly be great, you have to become a “doulos”, that is, a slave (Levy, Ralph. (6 July 2002). Servant Based Leadership – Christ’s Example. Sermon transcript at http://www.rogerswebsite.com/others/Servant-Based-Leadership.htm).
When you think about the difference between someone who is an indentured servant and someone who is a permanent slave, then the act of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet should make us realize that it isn’t just a once in a lifetime or even once per year attitude we are to have.
I realize that not everyone has the same role, and we all serve in different ways. We have different temperaments, different skills, different gifts and thus we are given different work to do. However, in all things, “serve” is still the key word. Those who bear the fruits of a servant will become evident in due time. Likewise, so will it be for those who expect it to all be done for them without any effort on their part.
Who do we serve? Well, obviously each other. Yet, in reality we serve God the Father and Christ our Lord. They are the Ones Who give us these talents, gifts and opportunities.
Don’t forget: Jesus did a lot more than just wash our feet, as humiliating as that was in that culture. He washed away our sins with His blood.