One of the most impactful moments of servanthood I’ve ever experienced took place after I graduated high school.
It was almost time for me to pack up and make the trip to Joplin, Missouri, where I would be attending college. The drive from Phoenix would take about 18 hours, and I was not super interested in doing it alone. Of course, my mom was more than willing to come with, but she had to work, and would need to fly out a few days after I needed to leave in order to be in time for orientation.
My dad had passed away a few months earlier, leaving my options somewhat limited, so I decided to ask my youth pastor Paul if he might be able to make the journey.
Paul was my youth pastor for most, if not all my time in high school, and he had always been a friend and mentor. I spent a lot of time hanging around the youth ministry offices at the church building, so I had gotten to know him well.
However, the fact that I was making a big ask did not escape me. I was asking him to take at least three days out of his week to drive halfway across the country in a cramped car with just a few weeks’ notice. So, as you might imagine, I was a bit nervous, totally prepared to have him politely apologize and tell me that he wouldn’t be able.
Instead, he took a few brief seconds to think, then simply said, “Yeah, I can do that.”
It seems to me that a rhythm of servanthood is not necessarily about the grand nature of the acts of service we accomplish, or the depth of the personal sacrifice we endure to serve others, but about living a life that seeks to put others before ourselves.
Paul was absolutely making a sacrifice, and I would consider his act of driving across the country with me pretty grand, but what made the most lasting impression on me was that his decision to help was not much of a decision at all. It wasn’t second nature to him, it was first! In this way, he demonstrated the love of Jesus.
Jesus’s rhythm of servanthood was clear in the fact that he was constantly prepared to teach, feed, and comfort those around Him, whether they were people He knew, strangers in need, or even enemies seeking to destroy Him. He did not relegate his service to volunteering once a week, or the occasional mission trip.
Instead, he demonstrated that which we are to strive for: a passion for the needs of others.
We need to come to a place where we no longer view “serving others” as that which makes us Christians, but our personal choice to follow Christ as that which necessitates our desire to serve. Extending our hand in aid to someone else should not be seen as another good deed through which we earn Heaven, but a natural response to the joy and gratitude we feel upon receiving the grace and love of our Savior.
Just as love should cause us to “keep no record of wrongs” (1 Cor 13:5) when it comes to others, we are not to keep any record of “rights” when it comes to ourselves. Rather, like Jesus, it is our joy to serve, not to be served.
What remains is to examine our current rhythm of service, and to humbly ask God for opportunities to serve others, and the courage to serve them with humility. It is only through this cycle will we start to make servanthood a lasting rhythm of our faith.