A Servant’s Heart

OJP Logo editorials

by Erin D. Schultz

In our society, it’s often all about us — what we want, who we are, and how we can be noticed. This is the exact opposite of a servant’s heart. Any service we give is actually to the Lord and not to people (Ephesians 6:7). Everything begins in our hearts.

Jesus is our role model: “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

We must decrease “us” and allow Christ to increase in our lives. This can be a challenging job. These questions are a good heart-check:

  • Is it a privilege for me to lead, represent, and serve others?
  • Do I put others’ needs above my own?
  • Is God’s will my priority in my desire to serve?
  • Is it necessary that I receive some award, recognition, or gratitude?
  • Does my love for Jesus flow out to others around me while serving?

Humility is so important for a godly servant. Step back and allow others to share the gifts God gave them. He has given all His children gifts for the building up, encouragement, and comfort of the church (1 Peter 4:10). Let’s not hog the limelight, but instead encourage others in their gifts. When we are God-centered, focusing on Him above all else, it is much easier to follow His guidance through the Holy Spirit and His Word, truly walking the talk. Blessing others should be our highest priority. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5b). “The greatest among you must be a servant” (Matthew 23:11).

“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).

Slowing down and expressing interest in others gives us the opportunity to serve. We can be so focused on our plans, our time, and our stuff that we forget to look outside ourselves long enough to realize life isn’t all about us. We are put on Earth to be the hands and feet of Jesus in service to others. There are many hurting people in the world and God wants us to help those in our circle.

Having a servant’s heart is demonstrated by our love for the Lord, keeping His ways and laws, clinging to Him and serving Him (Joshua 22:5). If you desire leadership, you must be a servant (Matthew 20:26). This does not always set well with people in our churches, businesses, and families. There is a strong desire for attention and control. We need to pursue true harmony, building each other up (Romans 14:19).

When we choose to serve others, we find fulfillment ourselves. Sacrifice gives us purpose and reward. We might think that giving too much causes loss; but in reality, it is in giving that we are blessed the most.

How do we develop this servant’s heart? Begin by being in full alignment with the Lord. Our close relationship with Him exposes our pride and pushes us to embrace humility. This is a daily part of our lives which keeps our hearts in alignment with His Spirit.

Our Father takes notice of all that we do, including our motives. Servanthood can be a successful way of life, an expression of worship to God, reflecting our relationship with Him. We serve to express God’s love in practical ways, honoring Him. This allows us to become others-centered, not self-centered.

What we think about affects our behavior. Spending time in prayer, Bible study, worship, and fellowship precipitates what we believe about God and the people around us. We become what we think about and focus on.

Ultimately, we will make the choice: to live in proud isolation or enjoy the warmth of a servant’s heart.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).


All Bible verses in this editorial are from the New Living Translation.