John 13:1-17 – Servant Leadership

Read John 13:1-17

Jesus washing his disciples feet

Imagine you’re with Jesus to share a meal, and, all of a sudden, he wants to wash your feet! I think I would have been a little bit like Peter, aghast at what the Messiah was doing. In those days, a lowly servant was the one who would cleanse the master’s feet. After all, in those days, dusty roads and sandals would leave dirty, smelly feet.

But Jesus’ response surprised me. Did it surprise you when he said, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” What does that even mean? Clearly, the lesson Jesus intended from this experience went beyond having clean feet or doing something nice for others. To not belong to Jesus would be a frightening reality.

It’s a reality many people are facing. They could belong to Jesus, too, but they haven’t been “cleansed.” Only Jesus can do that. Being in a relationship with Jesus and being open to his cleansing is what sets us apart from all those people walking around the world today in a daze, lost with no idea how to find their way.

Jesus knew that teaching his disciples this very important lesson would serve them well and bring many people into a cleansing relationship with Jesus. Jesus’ example to them and to us is profound. Jesus, our God, bowed down to serve others. We are now supposed to do the same.

What does being a servant mean to you? We’ve often heard Jesus referred to as the “Servant King.” In business circles these days the familiar reference is servant leadership. The idea is that business is conducted with the first priority being to serve the needs of others. Secondary to that mission is turning a profit.

How do we as individuals exhibit servant leadership in our lives? I have been asking God to show me where I can serve my community. He has opened my eyes to something nearly under my nose. Several months ago we had an orphanage move in next door. Hearing the children laugh and play each day has been a boost for me, especially now that I know their story. It’s there. God is calling me to be a servant there.

I’m so excited to see how God will use me, even though my Spanish is not that great. For months, I’ve used my inability to communicate (or fear thereof) to hold me back. Have you ever done that? Talked yourself out of something great because of some fear or insecurity?

Jesus is using one of his last teachable moments with the disciples to get this message out. Be a servant! How are you going to serve today?

Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for your prompting in my life to serve you. Forgive me for all the excuses I can come up with to do something else, more comfortable. May I trust you to lead me so that I can lead like you. Open up the pathways to my heart and the hearts of those I come in contact with to receive you and treasure you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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