by George W. Rizor, Jr.
Children seem to be fascinated by the idea of serving. Whether it’s a tea party and someone is offering tea or mud cookies… Or it’s play at a little service station… At one of those little service stations in the sandbox, you’re likely to get offered lots of service and amenities you’d never find in today’s automated, self-serve gas stations.
Kids actually seem to like the idea of service industries, service situations and service attitudes. Lots of times it shows up in their play.
We adults frequently have moved away from the wonderful concept of service, tied to Christian caring and concern.
In Mark 9:35, Jesus gathers the twelve disciples, sits down with them and tells them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’
But something about that doesn’t sit well on our ears.
We – you and I – are called not to argue about who is greatest, but we are called to service.
We are called to care.
We are called to love.
It isn’t about what we deserve.
It’s about what God has given us freely in love and in caring.
It’s about membership in the family of humanity and about looking out for one another.
It’s about doing for others, not because we want rewarded or to get what we deserve, but about doing for others because we have been so loved, and so cared for that we don’t have any other choice.
Serving, caring, loving and putting God and other people before ourselves should be a reasonable and decent and desirable pursuit.
It shouldn’t be a negation or a transaction to be somehow rewarded.
But again, that doesn’t sit well on our ears.
In this country, in our society, we have come to have a great deal of difficulty with the idea of being a servant to others.
Part of that problem comes from equating servanthood with negative connotations that are false.
Servanthood empowers us, it does us good and it glorifies God.
Servant is not the same as servile.
Servant is not the same as slave.
Servant is not the same as diminished, or belittled, or oppressed, or used, or imposed upon or robbed of dignity.
Being a servant makes us great, makes us mighty and gives us the power to love unconditionally those who are needful of our love… and those who need to experience our service.
Servanthood makes us great, gives us power, gives us presence and teaches us humility and the ability to live in this world in peace and harmony with the rest of creation.
It isn’t about what we deserve. It’s not about reward.
It’s about being there for the other person, about innocence and giving.
It’s about service.
And that way lies greatness. That way lies true leadership.
Not in our traditional adult concepts.
Not in being first. Not in owning the most possessions. Not in having the biggest bank account. Not in being the right color, or having the right facial features. Not in thinking only as our culture and society have told us it’s ok to think. Not in being born in a particular country, even if that country has nuclear capability. Not in being born with a particular name.
Not in being first, biggest, boldest, strongest, meanest, most powerful and not even in being the majority.
We need to invite the child in us to take over. We need to be servants in a childlike way. We need to be the children of God and in being servants in the spirit of children, we attain that which God desires for us.
Life with joy and life eternal…
May I check your oil, while I fill ‘er up?
How do you serve others?
© 2013. George W. Rizor, Jr. is Sr. Minister, Landover Christian Church, Landover, MD and Professor of Social Sciences and Humanities, Westwood College, Annandale, VA.