Lately, God has had the topic of servanthood so heavy on my heart. Though I thought it was something I already understood, certain recent events have forced me to examine it more closely than ever.
It all started at Youth Camp this summer. It was the first time in many years that I’ve been able to attend--this time as a worker, of course--and man, did it rock my world. Every message was so convicting, so soul-stirring, I have not been able to get away from them since. One particularly gripping moment was on night three, when the evening service evangelist, Bro. AJ Halloway, posed this question when speaking of the Last Supper:
“Can you wash your Judas’ feet?”
That question was like a punch in the gut. Am I willing to humble myself to the point of washing even my enemy’s feet? Selflessly serving those who have hurt me or will hurt me in the future?
From that moment on, the image of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet stayed rooted in my mind. It was in the mind of my husband and our church’s youth pastors we serve alongside, too, apparently, because all at the same time on Friday night of camp, we looked at each other and said we needed to have a foot washing service with our youth. Yes, this type of thing might be considered old-fashioned these days. Yes, it is awkward and uncomfortable. Sometimes gross, even. But that’s the whole point.
Being a servant isn’t about being comfortable.
We posed our idea to the rest of our youth committee when we got back home and everyone agreed we needed to do this ahead of taking our youth and Hyphen to North American Youth Congress (NAYC). What better time than now to encourage everyone to lay aside their differences and submit one to another?
So, the Saturday before NAYC, we called a youth and Hyphen prayer meeting. We did not tell any of them ahead of time about the foot washing but instead surprised them with it, and yes, you could sense everyone’s unease at first. The room was deathly silent as we pulled out the buckets of water and stacks of towels and laid them out across the platform stairs. No one said a word while they each took off their shoes and found a seat before a tub of cold water.
But then those of us on the youth committee, along with our Hyphen leaders, went to our knees and began washing…
And the Holy Ghost fell.
The moment my hands touched the feet of my sister in Christ, I felt an undeniable, tangible shift. All fear and awkwardness and pride faded. Only the most precious and beautiful spirit of unity and humility remained in that room. It is truly hard to put into words what we felt that night.
Again that image of Jesus, the King of Kings, on his knees, washing the feet of his friends and his betrayer, burned in my mind. If the Creator of all things could humble Himself enough to do that, how can I not endeavor to emulate Him? In those moments, it even felt as if I were washing His feet.
After all, Jesus Himself said in Matthew chapter 25, verse 40:
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (KJV)
True servanthood is about so much more than just volunteering at your local church. And it’s not about being well-known because we sang at this event or preached at that conference, though those are great ministry opportunities.
Being a servant means emulating Jesus in our humility and love.
It means obedience above all else, not questioning the one you are serving, but submitting to their will and command.
It means working diligently without expectation of receiving thanks or praise.
Doing the messy jobs no one else wants.
Toiling faithfully in the shadows, content to be known only by the King.
Being a servant means pouring into others, knowing you may not be poured back into.
It means submitting yourself to your brethren. Yes, even your Judas.
How often do we find ourselves caught up in pride, thinking we are above doing certain tasks at our church? How often do we find ourselves overlooking, even purposely avoiding the hopeless and hurting among us? How often do we convince ourselves that we are doing the work of the Lord and serving the kingdom, when in reality, we are serving ourselves--or at least, withholding a part of our commitment?
We heard at NAYC that the true Biblical definition of righteousness is to exhibit the love of God. To be righteous, we must love our neighbor as God loves us. And to be a servant like Jesus, we must also have this selfless sort of love. So it sounds to me like the two go hand in hand: to be a servant is to be righteous, and vice-versa.
In a world that constantly tells us to love ourselves first and do what makes us happy, Jesus is calling for faithful servants who will go against cultural expectation and instead put others before themselves.
Do you hear it?
Can you feel it tugging at your heart as it does mine?
If so, will you join me in answering the call?