Having been involved in career ministry for more than 25 years means I’ve worked with a few different personality types. One coworker, in particular, was a controller. Rather than encourage those within his sphere of influence to use and develop their God-given gifts, he squelched them and said demeaning things.
His manner both hurt and nearly drove me crazy until I began to understand that it was rooted in insecurity. He couldn’t encourage others to soar because they might soar higher than him. Third parties might then recognize their potential, and this could threaten his position. This understanding completely changed the way I viewed him.
Rather than chafing and harboring hurt, I viewed him with compassion. I now saw him as a man in bondage, a man who lacked inner freedom because he didn’t understand his identity in Christ.
When I read the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, I see a Man secure in His identity, and His behavior proved it.: “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him.” (John 13:3-5)
Jesus knew who and whose He was. He understood God’s unique purpose for His life. As a result, He never wasted time or energy comparing Himself to others and their callings, and He never felt threatened or intimidated by others’ giftedness.
In this story, Jesus could have asked a servant or one of His disciples to wash His feet. He was, after all, the Teacher. Asking someone to perform this service for Him would have provided a convenient reminder of His position and authority. But why? He had nothing to prove. He was the Son of God, and nothing would improve on or change that fact. Therefore, He was free to behave like a servant and wash His disciples’ dirty feet.
Our human bent might say that stooping to serve others causes them to view us with less dignity than we desire. We might lose their respect. Our authority might take a hit. But in reality, the opposite is true. When we’re secure in who and whose we are, then serving is neither demeaning nor a means of proving something. Rather, it’s a demonstration of our love for others, and it brings joy.
What’s one act of service you can do for someone (apart from your family) today?
Photo courtesy of Google images.