good works

The Paradox of Serving

One of the most important lessons I learned about being great came at the end of a day of work, and it was taught by a co-worker who never called herself Christian. She had a handle on being a servant, and she modeled it. In doing so, she became great.

It had been one of those days, and I couldn’t wait to sign off and go home so I could sit and prop up my feet. It was a hot day outside and the air conditioning was barely chugging along as we ended our shift. I just wanted to go home.

Shift change had not come too soon for me. We had our share of emergencies for the day, and it was now past time to go home. I passed the dirty laundry in the hall and ignored a gentle nudge from the Spirit.

That’s not my job, I thought to myself. The nurse aides can do that.  It’s their responsibility. I was right. It was their responsibility. Many had been the day they’d gone home while the rest of us spent an hour completing our charts. This time, it was my turn to head out.

That’s when I noticed my nursing supervisor coming up the hall. Her day was far from over; yet she stopped, grabbed the dirty laundry bag, and dragged it up the  hall. Unlocking the laundry chute, she stuffed it through the opening.

servant hands

I didn’t know much about this supervisor. She’d only been here for a week or so. Yet her action told me that I’d like working for her. She wasn’t too good or too proud to stoop to do something menial. She wasn’t too good to do something that wasn’t her job.

From things I’d heard and surmised in conversations, she did not profess any belief in Christ. Yet today, she had surpassed me in her attitude of service.

You know how long ago that happened? Over 35 years ago. I’ve never forgotten. I can still see her heaving that bag of dirty laundry up and stuffing it down the chute. I still remember the feeling of shame that washed over me as she stooped and became great.

Jesus knew that a person is not a true leader unless he or she is first a servant. He modeled that for us. How easy it is for me to look out for my selfish desires instead of looking for ways to reach out to help others.

servant bee on white flower

My supervisor became a favorite among  her subordinates – because she became their servant. That’s  just what Jesus said would  happen, isn’t it?

In the kingdom of Christ, things are upside down. You lose so you can win. You gain and horde, and then you lose. You become weak to gain strength. You become as a child so you can enter the Kingdom. You stoop down and do the most menial of tasks and end up becoming great.

Jesus said that true leaders are those who serve. He said that those who want to become heralded as great need to learn to serve.

How is your serve?




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