I love eating at Chick-fil-A. It’s not the great tasting grilled chicken breast (without the bun). Or the indoor playground that is large enough for me to crawl through with my little ones. It’s not that they have the best tasting lemonade in the world or even those comical cows that I most appreciate.
What I most love about eating at Chick-fil-A is the employees. They seem to actually understand (and embrace) a “servant mentality.” They not only work in a service-oriented field, but it seems like they really want to serve others. And that’s not exactly the norm today.
A willingness to serve others is not most people’s first response.
At Chick-fil-A, I’m guessing they’re required to give the standard reply. But it sounds sincere whenever they are handing the to-go order through the window and I thank them for it, every time they smile at me, look me in the eye, and say, “My pleasure.” They actually appear to enjoy serving me the meal, picking up my mess, carrying my tray of food, taking my drink cup for a refill, or finding me another package of Chick-fil-A sauce.
I’m not writing this post as an advertisement for Chick-fil-A. (But, hey, if you guys see it, I hope you’ll send me a few coupons!) My point is that anytime I eat there, I have a dining experience that is a stark contrast from other chains.
Servanthood is never easy, it’s not what most people aspire to, and it’s certainly not a virtue that’s praised in our culture.
Why would anyone choose servanthood?
Isn’t it a better experience to be the one being served?
Isn’t it more desirable to be on the receiving end of servanthood?
But, funny thing, Jesus promoted a different route:
[box]It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
(John 13:1–5, 12–17)[/box]
Don’t skip over that last line. Did you read that? Jesus equates serving others with being blessed.
Does that make sense to you?
It makes sense only if you begin to take on a kingdom mentality and heart.
Where does that motivation come from?
How does that happen?
It happens when love for God is poured into our hearts by His gracious Spirit. That’s the starting place. Then, love for God is cultivated through getting to know Him, from watching Him, studying His character, seeing His responses, observing and experiencing His grace.
As our love for God grows, our desire to follow Him increases. As our passion for His glory expands, our love for Him flows into a love for others. The outworking of love for others is demonstrated in servanthood.
We don’t like to put it in those terms.
The popular notion of “love” tends to focus on what I can get from it, rather than how I can extend it.
Living in an entitlement culture, and battling that culture within my own heart, requires great intentionality to pick up the towel of service. But Jesus says there is blessing there . . . what is He talking about?
We’ll pick up on that thought tomorrow.