Servanthood is a buzzword in churches and leadership circles today.
Here are 3 reasons to practice servanthood.
1. We serve cause Jesus served
The Jews expected their savior to be a conquering king who would return them to their glory days experienced under David and Solomon.
Instead they got a suffering servant.
“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26–28
Jesus also served by pouring himself and His Deity into human form.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8
2. We serve because we are sons and daughters not slaves
Our servanthood stems from the gift of redemption and adoption, which are ours in Christ.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5
In the first-century, the understanding of the word redemption came from the world of slavery. Not the brutal picture of slavery that many of us have in our minds, involving beatings and chains. First-century slavery was a normal part of life.
A slave would enter into an agreement with the master to serve for a set period of time, usually six years. The penalties for breaking this agreement by rebellion, theft, or running away carried severe penalties, even death. In spite of this, a slave could make a very good living in the first-century.
Once a person entered into the contract of slavery, redemption could factor in. A slave owner possessed the right of redemption. He ‘owned’ the slave and could do what he wished. Redemption occurred after the purchase was complete.
An owner bought a redemption ticket with the words ‘For Freedom’ written on it.
History tells us this was a rare gift and honor. When exercised, slaves would often go and live with the masters anyway.
As they lived in the master’s house, they would inevitably end up serving, sometimes doing the very same tasks which they were bought to do.
However, something changed within the heart of the servant.
Redeemed slaves serve from a place of freedom, not obligation or fear of punishment. The motivation for serving the master became gratitude for the incredible gift of freedom. No longer did they fear punishment, rather they freely served out of love for the master.
Like the redeemed slave, we serve not out of duty, but for the fact we are sons and daughters.
3. We serve because all people are equal
Genesis tells us male and female were both created in God’s image.
Ephesians 5 speaks to husbands and wives, as well as slaves and masters. These admonitions are preceded by one over-arching principle.
“submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21
Everyone submits to everyone.
It’s a servanthood game of limbo, challenging us to consider how “low we can go!”
In missions, we serve all tribes and nations because we are equally created by God. We learn from each other, avoiding a sense of superiority which elevates the missionary over the mission field.
In a world desperate for different examples of leadership, servanthood stands out as a counter-culture approach.
Photo credit: DO - Lake Run Limbo via photopin (license)