What is the greatest hindrance to your serving your family? There are a number of reasons, but there is one that outdistances them all.
The greatest blockade to your being a servant is pride. Pride makes a person think they deserve better. Pride compares it’s station in life with that of others. Pride wants to be first. Pride makes a person think they are too good to serve.
Whenever pride is present in a home, not only is there a lack of kind service, but there will be conflict and trouble (Proverbs 13:10). “Most of the trouble in this world is caused by people wanting to be important,” wrote T.S. Eliot.
It is easy to become proud within a family. One’s age or place in the birth order can make a child think he is too important to serve his brothers and sisters – and expect them to serve him. Our role in the family can make us proud by thinking it is more important than what others are doing and we devalue their responsibilities. Our abilities (musically, athletically, skill in making money, academically) can cause us to feel superior and hinder our service to family members. Worst of all, one’s perceived level of spiritual maturity can cause pride and an attitude that wants to lecture those around us.
The Lord Jesus Christ was the greatest servant of all and, yet, He was superior in every way to those around Him. The reason Jesus’ life was characterized by service was because He was humble and put the needs of others above His own.
The night before His crucifixion He spent with His disciples and washed their dirty feet before a meal – “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” (John 13:4-5)
The Scriptures above state that the Lord “laid aside his garments”. This referred to his outer garment, which would be somewhat like a nice coat in our culture, and He was left wearing a plain undershirt of sorts that only house servants wore. Then, He took a towel and tied it around his waist (which only house servants carried) and took the basin filled with water and began to care for the need at hand.
It is difficult for us to fully appreciate the picture here. In that day washing feet was a task given to a lowly servant in a household. The people wore sandals and so their feet were covered with dust and grime. It was a common courtesy when a guest entered your home to wash their feet. It was an acknowledgment of honor, respect and regard for the other person.
As Jesus began to prepare Himself physically for the task (removing His nice outer garment and tying a towel around his waist) He looked like a common, humble house servant. It must have been shocking to the men in the room. There they were in the common clothing of the people and here was their Master in the attire of a simple, humble servant. I’m sure it was absolutely quiet as the realization of what was happening brought shame to their hearts.
This physical expression of Christ’s clothing is a picture of what Jesus Christ did for us when He came down from Heaven to earth in order to become the sacrifice for our sins. In clear terms we are exhorted to have the same attitude He did in our own ministry.
Read the following passage and see how greatly Jesus humbled Himself.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Allow me to make a couple of observations from the passage above concerning pride and how it affects us in our resistance to serve those around us.
Pride is concerned with being “equal” (2:6). Though Jesus was “equal with God” He didn’t cling selfishly to the privileges and benefits of that exalted position. He “thought it not robbery” – what does that mean? The word “robbery” is an old English word which means “to selfishly cling to something”.
Jesus didn’t allow His position to determine what needed to be done. It is interesting that it says He “thought it not robbery”. Note that the battle of pride and humility is in the mind. That is why we are exhorted to “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). This is the way Jesus thought, as a servant would. He wasn’t looking for ways to improve His comfort, but to help others.
If you “keep score” of how you are treated or compare your status with others in your family you will not serve in a humble way. If you try to pretend to be humble with your words or your body language all the while being occupied with the thought that you hope others think you are humble, you will be shown up when you refuse to be involved in humble service.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Humility is not thinking lowly of yourself, it is not thinking of yourself at all”. In other words, the focus is not on myself whatsoever, but on serving others.
Price is concerned with personal “reputation” (:7). Jesus “made Himself of “no reputation”. The words “no reputation” are very important. They carry the idea of Christ emptying Himself, not of His deity, but of the independent exercise of His attributes as God. As a man, He lived like you and I do though He was God incarnate. He had the ability to do whatever God could do, but He submitted that right to the will of the Heavenly Father.
As long as a person attempts to protect their rights and privileges they will never be humble. It is often seen in the family unit as we “keep score” and protect our rights.
Again, this is something that He willingly and humbly did rather than being forced upon Him. The Bible says “He made himself of no reputation”. Both humility and pride are personal choices.
Pride is concerned about “form” and symbols (2:6). The Bible says that though Jesus was the “form of God” He took on a human body and the “form of a servant”. This meant that He willingly limited Himself.
Here was the creator of the universe that humbled Himself to be born to a simple family and worked as a common laborer (a carpenter)! He Who was eternal limited Himself to time; He Who was omnipresent limited Himself to space; and He Who was spirit limited Himself to matter (His body). This boggles the mind. A humble person isn’t occupied with His image and how he or she appears before others.
I remember when we had all of our kids at home and we would be going on a trip together that there would be a mad dash out the door to our van. As they struggled to pile in at the small side door an argument would often break out about where the children wanted to be seated. Sometimes they would say, “But I called it”, thinking that would solve the problem. (If you have more than a couple of kids you know exactly what I am talking about!)
I can remember talking to them about this foolishness and that I no longer wanted to hear the phrase, “I called it”. Of course, one speech from me didn’t solve the problem because it was a heart problem; they were operating from a mindset of pride. There was a perceived pecking order that the older had privileges to receive benefits, not a responsibility to serve.
God’s focus is on the person that is willing to do the humble things, usually the things others easily overlook or refuse to do. This was the case with Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. A powerful example is how Elisha served his mentor Elijah. The Bible says he “poured water on the hands of Elijah” (II Kings 3:11). This was the work of a simple servant. Yet, I believe it was one of the primary reasons God promoted Elisha later on. He was willing to serve in the most mundane ways.
Pride (and humility) starts in your mind. We begin to think, “I’m better than having to do this type of job!” (Taking out the garbage, washing the dishes, vacuuming or mopping the floor). We compare ourselves with other family members and our pride begins to protest in our heart that we are getting the short end of the stick.
Here is the tough part. All of us battle with pride. It must be faced and dealt with or we will refuse to serve or, when we do, will have a complaining and negative spirit about what we do. Is pride keeping you from being a servant like our Lord to those you love you most?