Christian Values: Service

Christian Values: Service

Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that  whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.  — Ephesians 6:7-8

You’re gonna have to serve somebody, It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

– Bob Dylan

In his research on Christian values, Ben MacConnell found the characteristic of service referenced in the Bible more often than any others, except for justice and love. In the preface of his book, The Case for Servant Leadership, Kent Keith writes, “There does not have to be so much pain and suffering, so much war and violence, so much starvation and disease, so many crushed dreams and untapped talents, so many problems unsolved and so many opportunities ignored. The world does not have to be like this.” Keith attributes much of what is wrong in the world today to leaders who are more concerned with their own advancement, their own accumulation of wealth and power, and their own legacy, than with providing leadership committed to the service of others. The term Servant Leadership was coined by Robert Greenleaf (, who believed the world needs leaders whose core motivation is their desire to serve – those who are servants first. Greenleaf’s test of a servant leader is this: “The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further deprived?” That is a standard not taught in most leadership training.

Typically, we associate service and servants with the lower, not the higher levels of business and society. The most well-known leaders in the Bible, however, clearly were servants first. In Matthew 20:26b-28a, Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” In Philippians 2:3, Paul says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, wrote “Do all the good you can…to all the people you can, for as long as ever you can.”

Current day philosopher Bob Dylan sings that we are all going to have to serve somebody. Our world needs unassuming and dedicated servants at every level of every business, church, community, and government. According to the writer of Ephesians, we are to render service with enthusiasm because whatever good we do, we will receive the same from God. If we are going to have to serve someone, we may as well serve God, and we may as well serve cheerfully.

Come home to church this Sunday. The road to greatness is a path of service to others.

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