February 11, 2001
One Who Serves
KEY VERSE: He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. -- Luke 22:26
Muhammed Ali became a world champion boxer in his day. We admired his skill and quickness. But Ali left a sour taste in the mouths of many because of his big mouth. We recoiled to hear him boast so often, " I am the greatest!"
Humility was not one of his gifts. In public life there are many radio and television celebrities who are not bashful about their power, influence, or intellectual brilliance. Like Ali they enjoy boasting about being the best in their business. Politicians urge us to vote for them because they have the power to deliver us an even stronger economy.
Even in the church men and women "run" for election to the office of bishop. Neither they nor their campaign managers ever describe them as "the humblest of Godís servants." Indeed we are persuaded to elect those persons whose achievements indicate that they have the potential to be "great" leaders of the church.
It was, therefore, quite refreshing to have our new Bishop, Larry Goodpaster, say to his preachers upon arriving for duty, "I need to know what you expect of your bishop; after all, I have been a bishop for only 26 days and I need your help to know how to handle this job."
In a society like ours, such humility is most welcome! And such an humble attitude does not diminish the authority of the bishop with his pastors. Indeed it heightens their willingness to serve under him, and encourages them to follow his example of transparency as they work with their own people. Laity are not prone to admire arrogance in their pastor.
If we would be true followers of Jesus, we must reject the standards of the world and seek always to serve after the manner of our Lord. He washed feet. He served his disciples rather than demanding that they serve Him. The humble service of those who care for babies in the nursery is just as precious to God as that of those who speak eloquently in the pulpit. We had best not forget that.
When we begin to entertain thoughts of how great we are at what we do, we had best dismiss those thoughts and start looking for the towel and basin that we misplaced.