Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. John 13:3-5 NLT
Self worth is the beginning of seeing value in others. You can’t truly understand the worth of someone else until you see the worth in yourself. Have you ever tried to win a battle for the sake someone else? No matter how hard you try you keep losing. And we try to make their value higher than our own, but the enemy comes in and says you don’t deserve them anyway just give in. Until you find yourself worthy of victory, you will never win. We try to devalue ourselves for the sake of others. We need to first see our own value to understand the value of others. When we see our value and know that all were created equal, we will begin to see the value of others. We can begin to put higher value on others. Knowing your worth and putting and on the shelf for the sake of others is far greater than feeling worthless and putting that on the shelf. If you think low of yourself and you are giving of yourself, you’re not giving very much. You’re saying I’m already down here I might as well serve, you’re then serving to feel better about yourself. Which is self serving. When you have high self worth, you have high value service. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples He wasn’t lowering His value to do so. True servanthood comes from authority, not striving. Service should never come from a place of need, but to a place of need. We’ve all been in the place where our identity is tied up in how much we serve. Instead we need to serve out of who we are, rather than determine who we are out of service. If you stopped serving who would you be? You must first have something, before you can offer something.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” John 13:6-8 NLT
Here is a phrase that will go against the grain of cultural Christianity. One of the greatest ways you can honor your leader is to allow yourself to be served by them. The only way you will gain a sense of belonging is to be served. Until you belong you’re not serving, but striving. If you want those you are leading to be servants, then you need to serve them. Service upward is easily turned to brown nosing. While service to the least of these will never turn to that. Until you can receive without obligation, you will not be able to give without it. As a leader my greatest desire is not that those under me serve me, but they serve those under them. If we are only in leadership to receive from those under us, then we are not leading. Serve to create a place of belonging, belonging creates ownership, and ownership breeds a servants heart. We all know that servants make the greatest leaders. Great leaders have nothing to gain, but to benefit those they are leading. Serve your leaders in this way, by serving those below you.
Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” John 13:9-11 NLT
True service is never more than it needs to be. To serve beyond someone’s need runs the risk of entitlement. Now let me clarify what I mean by honoring your leader by being served by them. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples He purposely did not wash more than their feet. He knew exactly how He needed to serve them. He did not take away what was their responsibility. By being served by your leader, I mean that you are submitted to them. When you come under their authority you are allowing them to wash your feet. You are not asking them to take on what is your responsibility. As you walk your feet are going to get dirty. If you’re not making a few mistakes or even failing big time, you’re not moving very much. Not every mistake is a sin. Maybe it’s a process that you’ve never done before and you miss a step. A leader serves you by stepping and showing you where you fell short and how to do better moving forward. A great leader will show your where they fell short and how they moved forward, so you don’t have to. They come down to say how deep that puddle was when they stepped in it, or what potholes to avoid when you turn down certain paths. To come under leadership you need to have prepared yourself to be under that leadership, where they are only needing to wash your feet along your walk with them.
Learn to bathe yourself. Make assessments on your own. This is what I have to offer and this is where I need to clean up. A leader that sets unnecessary criteria for you to belong, an oatmeal bath maybe, is not a leader you want to be under. As a leader you may need to show people how to bathe, but you’re not the one bathing them. You are a feet washer, showing those under you where and how to walk. Empowering them to get their feet dirty, or the better term get their feet wet. Feet get wet from washing. If your feet are dirty, but still dry you may want to ask why. As a leader your greatest pleasure should be washing your followers feet. If feet need washing, then people are going somewhere. Ministry is moving forward.