As a Christ-follower, my first and primary motivation for this posture of being a servant is Jesus himself.
You see, Jesus came not to rule, nor to make bad people good, but to save us – save us from our rebellious attitude toward God. He does this by showing us the way of His kingdom, and paying the price for our rebelliousness by giving up His own life – the ultimate act of service.
God authorized this by raising Jesus from the dead, something we celebrate every Easter.
This is great news!
Reversals (The Kingdom Way)
Jesus often spoke of the different way of His kingdom. He embodied the tension between overthrowing and working for the current world systems with one goal – God’s purpose in this world. This video does a great job of expressing this third way:
This then, brings us back to leading by serving (a reversal). He shows that the power of leading comes from this attitude of laying down your rights/desires/motivations as a leader, and start by seeing others more important than yourself:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Matthew 20:24-28 (NIV)
So then, as one who isn’t part of the current system (an exile), and yet called to be part of the system, my desire for greatness is subverted, converted into servanthood.
However, Jesus doesn’t just leave us in this state. In fact, Jesus makes this astounding turn in the priestly prayer chapter of John:
I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the FatherJohn 15:14-16 (The Message)
Jesus is the master of the next-level; by following his invitation to be a servant He mysteriously transforms us into His friend. He allows us to see what God is doing, and invites us into the decision!
Because of all this, I am a Christ-follower, and I strive to be a servant.