The Phil Files

Musings & messages on everyday worship, Jesus, and the stuff of life.


with 5 comments

In my article this week, “More than a Fork in the Road,” I talk about the term used widely in the by Jesus and the rest of the New Testament to describe leaders — the word is diakonos (and related forms) and it simply means “table servant.” For a chart giving an overview of the use of this term for servant, follow this link:

Jesus demonstrated it in the washing of his closest followers feet on the night he was betrayed (John 13:1-17) and then told them what the event meant so they would get over having to try to be “first” among his followers:

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.  Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:24-27 TNIV)

Why is it so hard for us to see the essence of church leadership as simply serving each other?

What makes it easier for us to view church as a service for us rather than a community where we are to serve others?

In Jesus’ day, a table servant was a low paid family servant, a woman or a child. Why do you think Jesus, and the early church after him, chose this term to describe its leaders?

Do you believe the following?

No matter how true the message and no matter how powerful the messenger, both messenger and message will not produce the results intended if the people who share it, receive it, and believe it won’t serve others like Jesus.

Written by phil

October 6th, 2008 at 4:53 am

5 Responses to 'Servant'

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  1. I think it is awesome that the Holy Son of God, who is King of kings, Lord of lords became a servant to us.
    I find it a privilege to serve Him.
    An example of a lowly servant work I did when I was younger, was clean the bathrooms and toilets at the church I attended. No one else wanted to do it. This was volunteer, not a paid job. And I found it rewarding to do this for the Lord.
    I want to strive to be more like Jesus/Yeshua.
    Thankyou Lord for coming to be a servant to us, getting down to our level so that we can know you in a personal way.

    Linda from Ohio

    6 Oct 08 at 9:37 am

  2. Thanks for another great article, Phil! I agree with Linda…it is so awesome that the King of Kings, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the holy Son of God came to the world He created to become a servant. I find it hard sometimes to even comprehend it all!! I want to do all I can to serve Him because of everything He has done for me. And I want to become more and more like Jesus. I recently read a great book written by Ann Spangler called “Praying the Names of Jesus”. This book has helped me to have a greater understanding of Jesus. In the book there is a chapter titled “Servant, Servant of God, Man of Sorrows”. In this chapter, Ann writes “When you pray to Jesus as Servant or as the Man of Sorrows, you are praying to the Lord Who has loved you in the most passionate way possible, allowing Himself to be nailed to a cross in order that you may have life and have it to the full.” I recently started reading another book by Ann Spangler called “Praying the Names of God”. This book is awesome, too!! Really helps expand our understanding of God and Who He is and all that He has done and continues to do for us every day.

    Regarding your question, I would have to say that yes, I do believe this to be true. Since Jesus came to serve us, how can we say we know Him as our Lord and Saviour if we do not follow His example and serve others?

    Have a blessed week, Phil!


    6 Oct 08 at 2:29 pm

  3. I don’t know when the idea of a heirarchy in the church began, but probably about the time the Romans got involved. The pattern seems based not only to the old Testament pattern of a religion and nation being linked in belief and practice, but also in man’s need to feel good about himself.

    It has been a lesson I have learned late in my life, but Christ actually seems to have come to restore the relationship God had with Adam and Eve in the garden. They walked together and talked, sharing the beauty of the earth and the joy of their existance. To me this relationship wasn’t a heirarchy but one of sharing and living together. That is God’s plan for our relationships on earth. It is man who wants or needs a heirarchy.

    Steven Leggett

    8 Oct 08 at 7:54 am

  4. Phil,

    Your little story about the fork in the road says so much about what separates true Christians and the rest of the world.

    I believe Steven nailed it when he said it is MAN who wants or needs hierarchy. God never intended leadership in the church to be those who would lord it over others – as portrayed by Jesus when washing the disciples feet.

    Leaders aren’t the only ones who have gotten off track (doing it for all the wrong reasons; i.e. to be important) but those who follow have been just as guilty. Why do so many leave a congregation to go to another with “a great preacher?” Or why do we leave one place and choose another because we don’t like the leaders? I can’t find any scripture telling us that we have to LIKE them! (Love them, yes). What I like is not important; serving God and each other is what is important.

    Our me-centered flesh causes us to seek a church that meets our needs. I have pondered this for many years trying to decipher how to get the point across (especially to new Christians) that if I am looking for what I need I miss the whole point of Christianity. Truly many will be last on judgement day because we are seeking our own wants and needs instead of having Christ’s serving attitude.

    Jesus specifically chose this type of servant – the lowest class, tasks which were done by women and children of that culture, to make an important impression upon us – one that Linda from Ohio and Glenda pointed out as the most important:

    If Christ Himself – the Son of God – came to serve US; how can we even begin to think we are to be served rather than serve? It is our human nature, our fleshly desire, getting in the way of what the Spirit wants that keeps us from fulfilling Christ’s will.

    Linda Hoeck

    9 Oct 08 at 6:36 pm

  5. Oh My: I know that I am a few days late in responding to this blog but, it is so dead on. As I reflect on my own life, SERVICE is the antedote to my self centeredness/self-absortion. Jesus, being God, humbled himself and took on the form of a servant, even unto death, and God highly exhalted Him and gave Him a name above every other name. The way Up is truly Down. I find in my walk with Jesus, He gives me multiple opportunities every single day to Be more like him in this way. May We all as Christians get this lesson, and it is truly what provides the avenue for God’s glorious love and healing touch to enter the hearts of men, after all isn’t that what caused us to “respond & recieve His gift of eternal life”? In closing, I am remembering a poingnant song by christian musican,from the 80’s, Nancy Honeytree (album Single Heart) based on the text when Jesus was having his last session with his disciples and demonstrated true love and service when He washes his disciples feet. The disciples are power tripping and He does a simple yet powerful act to teach a lesson. The chorus goes like this:
    The disciples were assembled in the upper room,
    they didn’t know that Jesus would be leaving very soon. They spoke about His kingdom and all the miracles thye have seen, who would be the greastest and when would Jesus be King. then Jesus says
    I’ve come to serve you, I’ve come to serve you.
    If you know my Father’s love, the way you say you do, then you will serve each other too (chorus 2x)
    May we, The Church, Christ-Followers, adopt the true spirit of Christ which is “Servant-Leader”
    God bless you,

    \"The Encourager\"

    14 Oct 08 at 10:18 pm

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