The new fade in the church environment is the motto “be the hands and feet of Jesus.” Translation – get out of the building and do something to help the modern-day “poor, weak, and oppressed.” So we organize mission efforts to hopefully make a difference in people’s lives. This is our missions; our service to others.
Uhhh…what about at home? Or more exact, what about in the home? Could it be that learning to serve others begins by learning to serve within your family unit?
I base these questions and the unspoken assumption of “yes” on the story of Jesus, James and John. In the gospel of Mark the two disciples ask Jesus for a “favor” while in the gospel of Matthew it is their mother who pesters Jesus. The so-called favor? “When you ascend to David’s throne can one of us sit on your right hand and the other on your left?” The two disciples or their mother (whichever) asked for prominence, promotion, power, influence, affluence, reward, and the list goes on as the perks of such a position. In other words they wanted to be #2 and #3 in Jesus kingdom – they even wanted to be masters over the other 10 disciples.
Do you remember what Jesus said to them? “Among you life will be different. If you want to be first you must be last; if you want to be the greatest then you must become the servant or slave of everyone else.” This reply is the theological basis behind the post-modern servant leadership movement in churches and homes.
So how different would it be?
What if husbands took up the priority of serving their spouses and children? That our primary task is to be the provider of things needed to live physically and spiritually; to see that this is an equation of equal parts. The analysis is that we provide and even over provide the material things but what is really life-sustaining is the spiritual. And what is often missing is the spiritual I know I am guilty of cheating this area and thus cheating my family of the servant leadership God will hold me accountable to. Our greatest challenge is to become men of Godly character who lead spiritually in our homes as well as provide materially.
What if wives took up the priority of partnering and supporting their spouse’s leadership and nurturing and encouraging children to grow in faith? The major concern today is that men are not leading and their spouse is not partnering or supporting. Conflict ensues and chaos is the norm. I was thinking about this – conflict rarely if ever surfaces when we are serving one another out of the depths of our love. Conflict almost always arises when we are not being served in the way we want or believe we are entitled to. We elevate ourselves to the left or the right chair where being served is more important that who or how I can serve. What needs to be enacted in our relationships is mutual and loving service of one another and the role modeling of such for our children.
What if our children learned the priority of serving others as a part of our faithful Christian witness? In the development of children we know that there is a stage in life where an adult has to do everything for the child. They are incapable of meeting their own physical or emotional needs. But there also comes a turning point when the child is capable of caring for themselves and needs to learn the valuable lesson of serving others as a priority, rather than continuing to be served. I believe that part of our societal problem today is that we as parents are still serving our kids – even the ones who are well into their 20’s. We have told them that their needs and wants are more important than the lesson of serving others first. How successful do you think they will be when it comes to commitment to an intimate and binding relationship? If life is all about them first, I predict that our divorce rate will continue on the same trend or go up provided they even get married versus just shacking up!
We all play a role in this – fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentoring adults, and the church family. We must get back to the biblical teaching and the traditional value of putting others first in our lives – beginning at home. We need to prioritize the service of our family and faith community above the need to be served.
How are you modeling this in your home?
What is one way that you are serving your spouse or family that seems to be counter-cultural to the defamatory character around us?
I believe that when we get service right in our homes, then we will be able to have an even more profound effect on the world around us. The character and care of our service to the world will ascend to new heights of love and grace because we not only understand but live out the biblical model of service.
I would love to hear and share your stories about how your family is modeling and encouraging the practice of service in the home!