The Disciple’s Principle: Servanthood


In J. Oswald Sanders classic work “Spiritual Leadership”, he called servanthood “the Master’s master principle.” He says, “Jesus was a revolutionary, not in the guerrilla warfare sense, but in His teaching on leadership. The term servant speaks everywhere of low prestige, low respect, low honor. Most people are not attracted to such a low-value role. However, when Jesus used the term it was a synonym for greatness. And that was a revolutionary idea.”

In Mark 10, Jesus told His disciples that whoever would be great in His kingdom must be a servant and whoever would be chief, must be slave to all. He concluded the teaching by saying in Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (CSB)

In John 13, Jesus washed His disciples feet and said to them: 12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you. (John 13:12-15, CSB)

What an act of humility. Jesus, the Son of God took a towel and basin and washed the disciple’s feet, an act reserved for the lowest of the low.

Servant Leaders

If Jesus modeled servanthood and held it up as the standard for leadership in His kingdom, shouldn’t we? If you are a disciple of Jesus, you have been called to serve and that continues as long as we follow Him. Never abandon the towel and basin!

Several years ago while pastoring a church in South Louisiana, I had in my congregation an older man named Delvin. He seemed to be a great guy, a loving husband, father and grandfather. When I took a stand on a particular issue in our community, Delvin and I got sideways. Because we didn’t see eye to eye, he quit coming to church. After several weeks His wife and daughter asked me to go and talk to him. I went and to no avail; I was not able to convince him to come back to church with his family. 

After several months had passed, his wife called in to tell me that he was sick and had to go to the emergency room. I said, “I’ll be right over.” I went over to his house and we decided to drive him to the ER. Upon arriving there, Delvin told me that I could go home. I told him that I would go home when he and his wife went home. I ended up staying several hours with them while the medical issues he was facing subsided.

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The next Sunday, Delvin came back to church and thanked me for caring for him and his family. In addition, he apologized for the way he had acted over our disagreement. He became a great friend and a faithful member of our church.

I guess what Teddy Roosevelt said long ago is true, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

What was the difference that made the difference? When I served Delvin and his family, everything changed! Again, I say, never abandon the towel and basin. Even more so now in the current situation with COVID-19 that our country is facing, look for opportunities to serve, whether that be your neighbor or a church member. Don’t miss those divine appointments that God has for you to serve.

By Tim LaFleur

Originally posted on Replicate’s blog here. Used by permission.


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