The Servant

Written by Matthew Macaulay | ChattHOP Staff

I recently went to a conference that was hosting thousands of people in a large arena. On the opening night, during worship, I kept noticing that my girlfriend Micah was periodically glancing over away from the stage to our left. I was intrigued and wondered why she kept looking over in the same direction time and time again. I couldn’t work it out. Eventually in a quieter moment, she turned and tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a man dressed all in black sitting just inside the barrier to the side of the large stage.

There he sat with a calm demeanor, totally content doing his job. He was at peace with himself and his role of feeding the cable in and out, time and time again, for one of the main television cameras. You had to squint a bit just to make him out in the dark surroundings, but you couldn’t help but notice that he was loving his job, perfectly happy in his place of servanthood.  

I wondered if anyone else had noticed him. Micah had, and there was something so beautiful in his low position as a servant that it was more captivating than the bright lights and the brilliant and wonderfully talented people doing an amazing job on the stage. In no way am I criticizing or making any judgement on the people in the bright lights, but just as my heart was arrested in that moment, I want to draw us to a posture, discipline and act that Jesus has not only shown us, but asked us to follow.

I don’t know about you, but I know that I’d much rather be a king; I’d rather be served, waited on and taken care of, revered, looked at and admired. That’s my default, the position I return to unless I choose to position myself to take on the role of serving others and practise challenging my selfishness and pride. The battle is real and the stakes are high.

The truth is, I was really challenged as I observed that wonderful man letting the cable in and out, because not even two years ago, I was in his position. And to tell you the truth, I spent a week doing a similar job with a bad attitude, and I held resentment and entitlement in my heart. I found it hard to take the low place and not be seen or acknowledged. I’m nearly 32 years old and sometimes my childlike attitudes are hard to tame. I mean, surely Jesus’ instruction that taking last place and being the servant of all was just relevant to the culture of his day, right?  

This message has never been more needed in the church. The place of prominence and leadership has become somewhat of an idol and the positions of authority and power are revered, celebrated, and worshipped. The problem we face in all that is that Jesus, who we are following and trying to be like, took the lowest place as a servant and came to us as our King to serve and not be served (Matt 20:28).

Not that I think leadership is not needed or inherently bad, but I do believe we need to readdress the balance. Maybe the greatest servants make for the best leaders? It’s for each and every person to search their own heart to be sure of their motives, desires and thoughts. Whatever your role or position is, no matter how prominent or unseen, Jesus has shown us that it is possible to be both a King and a servant, so there can be no excuses. There is no get out.

The only way I know how to get better at serving others is to constantly put myself in positions and opportunities of service. It’s not always fun, it sometimes highlights when I’m having a bad day, but I have no doubt that it’s a good thing, and good things are to be exercised.

For example, at work, we don’t employ cleaners to come and clean our premises. That would be nice. But instead, our team takes responsibility for the cleaning. We’ve made that mundane task an opportunity for each of us to not only practise serving the people that come into our building each week, but we are also learning to serve each other. We’re reminded of our humanity and equality and see the strength in one another taking the low position. It’s a good thing.

To love God and love other people well, I need to willingly and comfortably enjoy being a servant, just like that man letting his cable in and out for the television camera in the dark — almost unseen, but in fact, totally seen.