John 13:1-17

Servant Hearts

John 13:1-17
“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
John 13:15
Some Christians continue to take Jesus’ instruction literally, including Eastern Orthodox and Mennonite traditions. While I think Jesus’ foot washing example gives us principles rather than rituals, it might still be a useful exercise in Life Group one day.

I must admit, though, I find feet quite ugly, especially mine. They tend to take a bit of a battering from daily life. Then there’s athlete’s foot, verrucas, black nails, bunions, and ‘toe jam’! Toe jam is like belly button fluff but more grimy, damp and smelly! Sorry, but perhaps that’s Jesus’ point.
I found having my feet washed harder than washing someone else’s. But we must learn to receive acts of service, as it helps us die to self-sufficiency, and we mustn’t deny others the blessing for serving well.

Christ-like servanthood is meant to characterise the whole of our Christian lives. Therefore, take some time week to prayerfully reflect on different aspects of your life, asking God how he wants you to serve with the capacity and within the contexts he’s given you. Here are four suggestions, but feel free to explore others that apply to you.

1. Work Life
Ephesians 6:7 instructs us to obey our bosses “not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.”

Our approach to work is radically transformed by this teaching. It elevates the most menial, low paid job to kingdom activity, and it humbles the highest status, overpaid job to servanthood.
You don’t have to be an employee for this to apply to you. Even regular routines and most mundane tasks can become opportunities to serve God by serving people.

2. Home Life
As a husband I’m challenged to take love my wife “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25. It then goes on to use very practical, servant-like verbs to illustrate what this means, such as cleansing and washing, feeding and caring.

Whether you’re married or single, live with others or alone, ask God how you can serve him by serving those He’s placed you around, including your immediate household, family or neighbours.

3. Church Life
I love the way 1 Peter 4:10 encourages each one of us to “use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

I find it helpful to think of my natural talents and spiritual gifts as ultimately God’s gifts for other people. Like a delivery driver, they’re in our possession so that we can faithfully deliver them to the right people.

4. Leadership
When talking about leadership, the Bible says that “those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 3:13.

According to God, the reward for leadership is linked to how well we serve others. I’m not sure that’s what they’re looking for on The Apprentice!

While in the world there is a push for the top, in the kingdom of God there should be a rush to the bottom. This is the type of leadership Jesus is looking for, whether in commercial, political, voluntary or public sectors, and whether you’re a director, governor, line manager, mentor or parent.


  1. How does God want you to serve others in your occupation or vocation? If you’re an employee, think about your colleagues, customers, and suppliers as well as your bosses. If you’re self-employed, try writing down the aim of your business in terms of who you’re serving and how? If you’re not in paid employment, think about the people or groups you are a part of or would like to get involved with.

  2. How does God want you to serve others in your immediate household, family or neighbours?

  3. How does God want you to serve in the life of Everyday Church? Think about informal ways in which you can serve people, as well as the teams or serving roles that you are or could get involved in.

  4. Think about the areas of leadership or responsibility that God has given you and ask him to show you what servant-hearted leadership means in that context.


Dear Jesus,

Thank you for being willing to lay aside your position and power, and to take on the appearance and the role of a servant. Your example of costly, humble service towards us is profound and inspiring. Help me to serve others with the same loving-kindness and with the same servant heart that took you to the cross.

This Everyday Devotions was written by Tim Maton who leads our Wimbledon Venue.

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