At the beginning of John chapter 13, Jesus washes his disciples feet, using it as an example of how to demonstrate love for others. John writes, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end”. Then John describes in detail how Jesus washed each of the disciples feet.
When Jesus was finished, He asked His disciples if they understood why He washed their feet. He explains, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, has washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
During this exchange, Jesus points out the obvious: He is Lord. He is God incarnate. While we traditionally associate a Lord or Ruler with someone who is to be served, Jesus blows our mind by saying the opposite is true: a Lord and Ruler is to SERVE others.
One of my favorite chapters in scripture is John 21. After His resurrection, Jesus has just appeared to seven of his disciples who were fishing along the Sea of Tiberias. They had fished all night and caught nothing. Because Jesus has breakfast plans with them (that they don’t know about yet), He instructs them to cast their net one more time and proceeds to fill it to the brim with fish. When God has plans, He makes it happen!!!!
After breakfast, Jesus asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”. Peter immediately replies, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you”. How does Jesus respond? Then SHOW me Peter: “Feed my lambs”. This question is repeated by Jesus two more times. Each time Peter insists that he loves Jesus and each time Jesus replies by telling him to serve others: “Tend my sheep” and “Feed my sheep”.
In scripture, you will find that acts of service are ALWAYS how people show “love” toward each other. Jesus says that we are to deny ourselves, pick up our cross (read burdens of life) and follow Him. So despite our excuses and reasons for not doing it, we must love others as He did. That means service to others.
So how does this translate to our lives? From the perspective of family, that means that you are there for your spouse, children and parents. You think of their needs and try to fulfill them the best you can. You put them first. I can tell you plainly that I struggled to think that my father loved me. Why? Because he never served my brother and I. If it was convenient for him, it happened. If not…………well you get the picture. So while he SAID he loved me, most of the time I didn’t believe it because his words were not accompanied by ACTION.
In regard to work, I have had bosses that were a pleasure to work for and ones that were not. Unfortunately, the later became way more prevalent towards the end of my career. In fact when you look at the research data over the past fifteen years, the number one reason (mine included) for employees leaving their employer is that they feel their boss doesn’t care about them. Despite what a boss says to their employees, “you will know them by their fruit”. My last boss said how much he cared all the time but his actions spoke otherwise. He left early, came in late, was never present when critical decisions had to be made, always spoke about himself and how busy he was, rarely asked how his employees were doing……….you get the point. Not only is servant leadership important, but people don’t want to work in a place that doesn’t have it!
In closing, I want to encourage you to look at the people who God has put in your life and be honest about how you are loving them. Are your words supported by your actions? Are you serving those in your care, or being served? Christ was pretty clear: “Feed my sheep”. Let’s get to it!