Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Servanthood

I am generally very happy to serve… but detest being treated like a servant.

It seems that there is a certain category of people who are born with a smile; they only have one kind of attitude… a really good attitude. They don’t seem to have to work at it, or even think about it much; they just seem to be naturally optimistic and positive.

Sadly, I’m not in that category. My attitude is a constant project.

Nothing seems to more easily wreck my day than when I feel like I’m being treated like a servant. And then that realization, itself, makes matters even worse for me. First I feel bad about being treated like a servant, then I’m even more bummed out that I care how I’m being treated. The self talk goes something like, “really Dan, aren’t you happy to serve? Don’t you want to serve? Aren’t you at your best when you are serving? Then why all the angst about being treated like a servant?”

Hopefully, as I grow older, I’m learning to get over myself, and overlook these kinds of attitudes from others.

The more important lesson, for me, is assessing how I treat others along these lines.

I wish it was more rare when I realize that I have perpetrated the same sin on others. There are times when I can tell that there is something broken in a relationship and, after thinking about it, realize that I have treated that other person as a servant. Rather than ask, I’ve demanded. Rather than respect, I’ve offered contempt. Rather than appreciating the privilege of the service, I’ve communicated that it would be a privilege to be my servant.

The answer, of course, is not to stop asking for help, but to be sure to look for that help with respect and appreciation. I can always do a better job of making those “tasking” moments an opportunity to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23)

4 comments:

cc said...

"In the Kingdom of God, service is not a stepping-stone to nobility: it is nobility." ~ T. W. Manson

I think we look at it from an upside-down perspective.

Good post, Dan.

Anonymous said...

"Re: Servanthood - I have felt similar things in teaching...with today's youth often acting so entitled to everything, especially high grades, I see my teaching as a service, as my call, my mission field, but my 'servant' attitude completely changes when I hear a student address me with, "Hey!" or "Did you grade that, yet?" as if I sit around and count ceiling tilings all day and as if my only title is to master the giant paper trail of education to satisfy their every wish, want and need on command."

rosemarie said...

You're dead on - it's not about us at all. No wonder we need a Savior - it's hard to stoop to wash feet, especially when they're stinky and people don't know we're doing it for Jesus' sake.
On the other hand (or foot), it seems even harder when people thrust those feet in our faces and say, "WASH THEM!" Good thing we have the model of Christ, who affirms God's pleasure when we serve. Makes it a bit easier.

Anonymous said...

Some good thoughts, Dan. I enjoyed your musings about how difficult it is to be a servant leader when you really don't enjoy being treated like a servant. It provided me some good food for reflection. . .how does metanoia fit in the servant leader ethos? How does our life-long struggle with "the flesh" impact our attitudes and emotions about being treated like servants--or worse yet, being treated like slaves.