We LOVE watching the Olympics in our house, and I know many of you do as well. Have you noticed that when an athlete who’s just won a medal is interviewed, it can typically go one of two ways? The first way is they say something like, “Man, I’ve got such an amazing team of people around me. There’s no way I could be where I am today without my support group of parents, trainers, friends, etc…. I owe my success to my team.”
The second way is they say something like, “Nobody’s worked harder than I have to get here. I worked my tail off, I overcame more adversity than anyone else, and now I’m an Olympic champion. I’m so proud of myself.”
It’s pretty clear which athlete we’d rather root for, right? See even though our hearts are sinfully bent towards self-praise and the promotion of self, there’s something in us that understands that’s not the way it’s supposed to be done. Why? Because we know we’re not perfect. We understand that no one who’s successful gets where they are alone, and so we’re attracted to people who deflect praise and in doing so, serve one another.
Another reason we know a self-serving attitude isn’t best is because on some level, we know we shouldn’t just live for ourselves. The look on my kids faces when they’ve done something selfish pales in comparison to the bright smile they have when they’ve done something kind for their sibling. It’s inherent.
In Mark 10, Jesus is saying to his disciples (paraphrased), “You wanna be great? You wanna be recognized? Then serve each other. That’s how you’ll be known as my people, and ultimately bring me honor. It’s by the way you love and serve.”
And of course we see that the whole of scripture points us to Christ as the greatest servant-leader in history. But, catch this, we get to participate as an extension of that!
God’s intent for his people is realized by folks who have experienced the amazing, redemptive love of Christ and then become motivated to extend love and service to each other. So, if we’re truly alive with gratitude, then serving one another becomes a very natural outworking of our faith.
And did you know that the opposite is also true? If we lack gratitude for all that we’re given in Christ, then serving becomes drudgery. It just becomes a drag, and when we’re called on to serve in the local church context, or to help out our neighbor, or rearrange our busy schedule to meet a need… it’s a total downer. I believe that’s because we’re missing that secret ingredient of gratitude that says I’ve got to do SOMETHING in response to all that God has done for me.
I’m convinced that sustained servanthood in the body of Christ has to be rooted in the knowledge of what God has accomplished on our behalf through Jesus, and then spring from hearts overflowing with gratitude for all we’ve received.
If you’d like to learn more about what God’s design for service is, check out: