“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.” (Mark 10:43 MSG)
Tale of two bosses
During my last two summers before graduating from college, I worked as an engineering apprentice on the construction of Interstate 57 in southern Illinois. I was on a survey crew that first summer, driving hundreds of wooden stakes with a sledge hammer. My learning curve for this skill was slow, but I eventually mastered it after butchering numerous survey stakes and breaking a few hammer handles. One day my boss, who normally stayed in the air conditioned office, drove up, watched me flail at a stake, jumped out of his truck, grabbed my hammer and cleanly drove the stake. He then handed me the sledge, glared at me for a few seconds and then pronounced, “That, Plemon, is how it’s done.” He turned, got back into his truck and drove off without another word. I was angered and embarrassed, but not inspired.
My boss that second summer always worked as hard as the lowest man on the crew. When the dirty work came along, be it cutting a machete swath through a growth of excelsior rose or being rod man as we cross sectioned a borrow pit, he volunteered. Although none of us got paid overtime, he was the first man on the job and the last to leave.
My first boss was a surly jerk; my second was a servant. Which one do you think inspired me to do my best work? Right. The servant.
Leadership and Servanthood
In a world that considers greatness in terms of power, prestige and possessions, Jesus tells us that greatness is found in serving. We define greatness by how many people serve us; God defines it as how many people we serve.
Although many of us have read books on leadership, few have read books on servanthood. We aspire to leadership and some Christians among us want to be “servant-leaders”, not just plain servants. But greatness Jesus style is simply being a servant. Jesus (God Incarnate) was already a leader before he became a servant. His model, therefore is not to serve with hopes that doing so will move us up in the world, but to serve with zero ulterior motives. This is true greatness; it is what Jesus did and what he expects of us.
How about a quiz?
Your answers to these questions will give you an idea of how well you are serving:
- When a co-worker is struggling with an assignment, do you volunteer to help?
- If an extra unpleasant task is assigned to your work team, do you jump right in to make sure it gets done?
- Do you keep score and remind your co-workers or your spouse of times you have served?
- Do you help others even if no one else ever knows?
- Do you try to excuse yourself when the task at hand is not your “gift”?
- Do you ever serve others because you hope doing so will get you a promotion at work or in extra good favor with your spouse?
Jesus wants us to have a servant’s heart. Do you? How can you tell?
Jesus said, “You can tell what they are by what they do.” (Matthew 7:16 CEV)
Do you agree with this definition of greatness?
What other questions would you add to the quiz?