When was the last time you volunteered to do something in service to another person? If you’re a father, you’ve probably done something selfless already to serve your child or children today. If you’re a husband, chances are you can remember the last time you served your wife without her asking. But if you’re a single guy in your first job, scraping together a living and trying to make ends meet, it’s possible that it’s been a while. Most of us know we should serve others, but we don’t really know how. Talking about serving is a lot easier than actually doing it.
Jesus served throughout his ministry. When he served others, the act often involved self-sacrifice. Ultimately, he sacrificed his life for our sins. When we serve others, especially those who have no way of repaying us, we imitate Jesus. We represent Christ to those we serve. Kenneth Leech writes, “Christian spirituality is the spirituality of the Poor Man of Nazareth who took upon himself the form of a servant. To follow the way of the kingdom is therefore to follow him who fed the hungry, healed the sick, befriended the outcast, and blessed the peacemakers.”
Even with Jesus living and serving right in front of them, the disciples didn’t seem to get it. They wondered how they could be great. But Jesus answered, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43–44).
That’s the paradox of serving. When we give ourselves away in service, we find ourselves. When we empty ourselves in service, we find fulfillment.
A lot of people search for identity and self-fulfillment. Most look for it in repeated highs of promotions, exotic vacations or an endless parade of worldly possessions. But real fulfillment comes from serving God by serving others. When we give ourselves away in service to others, we find meaning and joy in life that selfishness can never equal.
To Take Away
What opportunities do you have to serve others—even people who can’t ever repay you?
What small and practical acts of service can you do at work or in your neighborhood to serve others?
What steps can you take to cultivate a selfless and humble heart of service?