The wife of one of my friends models servanthood very well. I noticed this at a dinner we shared several years ago. As we all conversed at the table, she re-filled my friend’s glass as soon as it reached the halfway mark. The act was so fluid and effortless that he didn’t seem to even notice. She put food on his plate before he could ask. She removed his dishes at the right moment so as not to interfere with the flow of the evening. She anticipated all of his needs, and then met them. This woman had all of the elements of servanthood that we’ve explored in recent posts. She’s faithful. She’s selfless. She perseveres. But on that night, the visible element was that she served where she was needed. She didn’t have to. She could have done something else. No one would have complained, and everyone would have understood. Or, she could have reminded him that he was a grown man and capable of serving himself. Instead, she served her husband, and enjoyed the relational blessings of that service. Perhaps you know people like this. They’re at the top of the social hierarchy. Maybe they’re the boss, or a PhD, or somebody of influence and importance, but they clean the toilet, or wash the dishes, or sit in the cheap seats. They don’t have to do these things. In fact, they’re position in the hierarchy excuses them in the social order from doing those things. But they choose to do them anyway because the toilet needs cleaning, the dishes need washing, and someone beneath them needs to enjoy watching the game.
My friend’s wife didn’t know it, but she was illustrating Paul’s commitment to serving where he is needed, and how he is needed. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Paul famously argues that he must be a servant, and adopt an attitude of being all things to all people so that he might save some. An application of Paul’s teaching makes one like my friend’s wife. To live out that teaching you must anticipate what is needed, and then fill that need. To advance the gospel, you do things that are needed, even if they are beneath you, so that some might be saved. And you get to enjoy the relational blessings that flow from the salvation of those who are a recipient of your service.
What needs are you meeting? Where have you been needed in recent weeks, and have you served the needs there? Do you serve with the proper attitude? Is your service a model to others? What joy could you experience from serving someone’s needs?