Having a Servant’s Heart

I admit it—I like a clean house. God has blessed me with three amazing men who I adore, but who sometimes become oblivious to messiness. This past Saturday morning I went upstairs and found that our bonus room had somehow turned into a fraternity house the night before!  Blankets and pillows on the floor; Popcorn remnants on the carpet and in between the cushions of the couch; an empty ice cream bowl on the lamp table; and assorted DVD’s left out on top of the coffee table.  Did I sleep through a party? As I began to clean up the room, I caught myself mumbling angrily under my breath, “Hmmmpph! I’m not anyone’s servant!”

As those words hung in a virtual thought bubble over my head, I caught myself wondering what Jesus would think of that comment.

We are called to be servants like Jesus, but in 40-something years I’ve not mastered that skill, yet.  In fact I have run the other direction a few times in my lifetime.  In today’s culture, being a servant has some real negative connotations attached to it.  With that in mind, what does it even mean to be a servant like Jesus?

Perhaps it means giving up my own will and laying aside my rights in order to serve others, selflessly. Consider the following scripture concerning Jesus’ service:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Philippians 2:5-11]

Being a Jesus-style servant is not easy; and like many of you, I’d really like to be better at it! I’ll be honest with you, I’ve volunteered on my share of committees and ministries over the years, but there’s always some sort of reward or recognition that I get for this service.  If nothing else, I feel really good about myself for being so…awesomely selfless! There might be a theological disconnect somewhere in there!?

Having a servant’s heart means to not only put other’s needs ahead of our own, but to serve with the right motivation—and that is to put God’s will first. Rewards, recognition or even gratitude cannot be the motivation to live out true servanthood the way Jesus did.

When I was in my early twenties, I was confronted by a friend who wanted me to think about serving as a missionary in Africa.  I will humbly tell you that it scared me to death to think about living the hard life of a missionary.  I wanted to tell people about Jesus, but couldn’t I just do it in comfort, here? Obviously, I wasn’t ready back then.  In fact, I was a great example of what it meant to be self-centered, not God-centered.  Thankfully, I’ve grown a little over the years.  I’ve regretted (in some ways) not going on mission back then, but clearly God wasn’t quite finished working out my self-centered kinks. I still struggle with being more of a Martha; sometimes too busy with what I’m doing to remember to ask God for His direction first and then take the time to listen to His response.

As parents we aspire to teach our children that being a Jesus-style servant means to look to our Lord as our guide, our example and our strength; remembering to take the focus off of our needs and put others first. Jesus’ life was so full of beautiful examples of this: He healed the sick, washed the feet of his friends, took time out of his ministry to listen and hold children—and then He died on a cross for the sins of the world.

Small acts can have huge impacts!  My prayer this week will be that God helps you and I become better examples to our children of what it means to have a servant’s heart. May the Lord use our hands and feet to make a difference for His Kingdom, and may our motivation be only God-centered.

Is there anyone who has inspired you with their servant’s heart?

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14 comments
april
april

I just was thinking about this very thing this morning.... after a full week of having 3 of us sick (me included), my husband leaving for work early, and 4+ more inches of snow on the ground, I asked the three older ones (12, 10, and 7) to put on their snow clothes and help their grandpa shovel snow. They did so without a single complaint or question about what they would get out of it. The front and porch, walkways, steps, and driveway are cleared. I needed that reminder, and am soooo thanking them when they get home from school for showing me their servant's hearts:)

Cynthia
Cynthia

Thank you Lisa for addressing the issue of serving. I struggle like others about to what extent do we serve like Jesus who served to the point of laying down his own life for others. I do not want to become a flunky or slave trying to serve. I think that there are some people who will take advantge of you once they know that you are a servant kind of person. We do have to look at the fact that others have the responsibility in doing the right thing towards others and not expect serving hearts to pick up after them or clean up their mess.

Tula
Tula

Am not married am still single am 25 year old but God open my spiritual eyes to see further . So am happy and exciting about what you just Doing its my vision and my goal that my country Vanuatu will be a blessing to another country in the pacific and around the world .

Tula
Tula

That is absolutely amazing Liza ,you a found same thing like me. I love to be a servant heart.this what Jesus do.Jesus is our example ,and we are the example for others.I been teaching alots of student and people ,church about Bering a servant heart it's not bossy but it's To be a servant .this Is Jesus do.praise god for you experience ,I've been experience alots ,sometime when things go hard I prayer for people ,I rebuke ,I confront ,but I always link true the word of the lord not my on will well continu the good word .bless you pure heart may god bless you and reward you according to what you do .

angela
angela

great blog about being a servant, I think we all could use prayer and Gods help in cultivating that. One thing I think about as a mother who does get aggrivated with kids dropping messes all over constantly is this.....one day those messes will be gone and I will miss them because it will mean my kids won't be here either. I also think "will this issue bother me on my deathbead" it kind of puts things in perspective sometimes.

Lisa S.
Lisa S.

Jesus, Others, Yourself...Dawn, I LOVE this! I may have to "borrow" it!! :) Thanks!!

Lisa Szabo
Lisa Szabo

Thank you so much for your post. I too struggle with having a servants heart. I have two young children that I am a stay-at-home-mom/homeschooler of, and I just got back together with my husband after about four years of separation. I find it to be difficult to handle serving a grown man, I just cannot seem to get the knack of it. Add to that the fact that I struggle with being a messy (a bad housekeeper, I just don't know how to learn that!), I get discouraged very easily when I feel as though when it seems I have to work doubly hard to accomplish a task, and it is undone by my husband or children within a matter of nano-seconds, it get very grumpy and forget about having a heart like the verse in Philippians. Thank you so much for posting this, it really helps me to know that I am not the only one who struggles with having a heart to serve others and not focus on the things that we want or that make us happier or life easier.

Dawn Marie Perkins
Dawn Marie Perkins

Thank you for this post....reminds me of this: You will have true joy when you practice JOY! Jesus, Others, Yourself :-).... Dawn

Lisa S.
Lisa S.

I'm sorry if the point of this blog was not clear. As a writer, I apprciate knowing this. My point was NOT about the mom servanthood of picking up after my kids. It was merely that that particular act got me to thinking about TRUE servanthood in Jesus---and becoming His hands in the Kingdom. I'm in no way encouraging moms to become wordly servants to the mess makers in their homes. This was my attempt at "girlfriend" humor, because as mom's most of us who have pre-teens or teenagers have been at this type of cleanliness crossroads. And yes, like you said, sometimes it's just easier to pick up after our kids-- but that doesn't make it the right thing to do. Totally not my point, but I agree with yours.

osborn4
osborn4

I certianly didn't mean to denigrate your main pont. The idea of running things through a servant filter is a good one. It's just that servanthood can look differently to different people and different tasks. For us, we've cleaned up too many rooms because it was the easier thing to do. The loving thing for us to do (for them and thier future wives) would have been to enforce the rules and make them clean up thier mess. But asking them, not blowing up at them, is the loving way to do it.

Kathy
Kathy

Oops, i hit the button too soon...thanks for sharing, Lisa. Lots to think about. K

Kathy
Kathy

I love the litmus test for a servant's heart... Knowing if you are a servant is simple; how do you feel when you are treated like one? Ouch!!! KL

Lisa S.
Lisa S.

Thanks for sharing your opinion Osborn4. I'm definitely not perfect, and unlike a lot of people, I really try to share my imperfect-ness with my readers in hopes that the bigger message of which I write about is relatable. I appreciate your comments... Thanks!

osborn4
osborn4

I don't know how old your kids are, but you might serve them better by teaching them responsibility and making them clean up rather than just cleaning up after them.