Servant to All
In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant,” and “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant to all.”
I’ve read these scriptures many times through the years and never gave them much thought. The past few years those same words cause me to stop and think about them. Maybe because I’m getting older and spend more time evaluating what I read, or possibly because I’ve come to better understand what Jesus was saying.
If we stop and think about our lives and the many ways we have served others, it could be a surprise. Parents serve their children in many ways: teaching them, helping them understand why they need to do certain things; and demonstrating how people act, respond, and interact with one another, to name a few. We may serve our parents as they age and are not able to do some things they used to do. We serve our partners by sharing in the household chores and striving to express our love for them. Many jobs certainly are serving others, such as first responders, medical professions, automotive technicians, teachers, people working in the food industry, those who pick up our trash — and the list could go on and on. Every job is intertwined with other aspects of everyone’s life in some way. We certainly can’t perform everything by ourselves, and need to rely on others to do them. So we are served by others and we serve others; and that is God’s plan, in my understanding. We serve those who are in need, those unable to do certain tasks due to age, physical restraints, or others reasons. We also need to allow others to serve us, which means recognizing our limitations, or simply because it could boost the other person’s self-esteem to be able to help or serve you.
When I worked at Consumers Energy, my job as a technology support person involved serving many people. There were times the job was rewarding, but most of the time it was simply a job. It never compared to the rewards of serving the volunteer jobs I have held as a driver for the Jackson County Meals Service, Personal Care Ministry, and as a Chaplain. Thinking of the Meal Service, many drivers expressed their sadness and how they would miss delivering meals. We looked forward to seeing our clients one or more times each week. No financial reward — just the reward of serving others. The same with the Jackson Personal Care Ministry, it is gratifying just knowing the people this ministry serves. When supplies are delivered to this ministry, we allow the clients to help. Those who are physically able carry these supplies upstairs to the storage area, and they are glad to be able to help in that way
Our status in society does not limit how we serve others. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter swings a hammers helping with Habitat projects. Other political leaders and corporate leaders serve on community projects and activities that serve those in need.
As I reflect on how we serve others and how others serve us, I have come to better understand those words Jesus spoke to his disciples, and is speaking to us. It is not about being the greatest or first. It is helping or serving those in need and being kind and loving to one another. We are not in a race someone wins. We are in a relationship with all God’s creation; and if we share and care for that, we all win.
Rev. Jerry W. Turner