With so many people trying to grasp control and recognition any way they can, where does having a servant’s heart come in?
It is said that if you don’t look out for yourself, no one else will. And there is a small amount of truth to that, but not the way it plays out in our modern-day culture.
Many people are so obsessed with their wants and rights, that they are willing to cancel out anyone else who does not agree with them. Having a servant’s heart is just too old-fashioned for them.
What does it mean to have a servant’s heart?
My mother was always inviting single students, widows, or anyone else who did not have family locally to come to our house for dinner after church.
She took people to the doctor who couldn’t drive and sat with people who were dying so they wouldn’t be alone.
My mother was always looking out for others and wanting to help. She had a servant’s heart.
Servant’s heart Bible verses
Among Jesus’ disciples, there was an argument about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. Jesus had to point out to them that the greatest is the one who serves. (Luke 22:24-27)
Jesus made it clear in Scripture that His purpose here on earth was to serve others. Yet He was the creator and ruler of the universe, the king.
Aren’t others supposed to serve the king rather than the other way around? Not according to Jesus.
“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 20:28 ESV , as well as Mark 10:45, and John 13:1-17.
Servein is not a skill or attitude that we come by naturally. It is something we have to learn. Jesus, the king, taught us by His example.
The Apostle Paul picked up on this theme when he wrote:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
“ For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think …” Romans 12:3
Servant’s heart quotes
Humility is at the core of a servant’s heart. Yet humility is misunderstood and undervalued by most people. The following definition sums it up well.
“Humility is not thinking less of ourselves,
thinking of ourselves less” C.S. Lewis
So the debate is not about whether or not we have value and worth, because we do according to Scripture.
But those who are always thinking of themselves first do not have a servant’s heart.
“A Man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle”. Benjamin Franklin
This person is not great according to Jesus’ definition of greatness.
How do you get a servant attitude?
Having a servant’s heart starts with a thought process. We must train our minds to think differently, to think like Jesus. As the great teen movement said in the 1990s, “What would Jesus do?”
Of course, in order to know how Jesus would act in any given situation, we must get to know Jesus and make the Scriptures part of our thought process.
To be like Jesus, it is imperative that we read the Bible and think about God’s words as often as we can.
It is equally important that we talk to God whenever we can through prayer. The more time we spend in the presence of God the more we will become like Jesus.
How can I be a servant to others?
Jesus gave us some important instructions regarding how to be a servant to others.
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
“What does it mean to love God? Is it a feeling?” This was the question a new friend asked me recently. My answer was “yes” and “no”.
There are times when we can be overcome with emotion regarding the many ways that God forgives and blesses us.
But any relationship based on emotion is unstable. Our feelings can change rapidly based on all kinds of factors. So loving God on simply an emotional level is not sustainable.
These verses in Matthew indicate a love that involves our whole being, regardless of how we feel. Therefore, to love God is a choice.
Jesus gave us the example of true love. It chooses to do what is best for others and puts their needs before our own. So are we willing to put God first in our lives? That is the test of true love.
Once we love God wholeheartedly, we are in a position to truly love and serve others.
Surprisingly, the example that Jesus gave on how to love others can be found in how we love ourselves. That may seem like an oxymoron when we need to exercise humility. But read on and you will understand.
- If it is hot outside, do we love to have someone offer us a cold drink?
- When we are late to work, do we love to have another driver let us go before them?
- If we are discouraged, do we love to have someone encourage us?
- When we are sick, do we love to have someone bring us a meal?
If you answered “yes” to any of these, then do the same for someone else.
These are some of the simplest ways that we can love others and have a servant’s heart.
Once we love God and we begin to love others, then we are in a position to really serve. This is the fertile soil from which a servant’s heart grows.
Jesus served others in practical ways
Jesus did things that weren’t always pleasant, but they met the needs of others. He washed stinky feet, which was beneath the dignity of many of His followers. Washing feet was usually assigned to actual house servants.
Jesus also was not afraid to touch people who were sick, people who no one else wanted to touch. Yet human touch is so important to our human psyches.
Jesus was not embarrassed to eat with the outcasts of His day.
Churches today serve others in practical ways
The three examples from Jesus are activities that some churches have taken on as a way to serve the homeless.
Our church has had several haircut and pedicure clinics for the homeless in our neighborhood. We also take them meals and actually sit down to eat with them.
Helping the homeless is just one way to serve. Hospitals, schools, and churches are always looking for volunteers to help out.
Having a servant’s heart is a beautiful thing that pleases God and comes from godly humility and spiritual growth.
Likewise, having a servant’s heart is something that becomes more evident in us as we get to know Jesus better and become more like Him.
Finally, having a servant’s heart is a display of the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, kindness, gentleness, and patience.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Do you have a servant’s heart?