The Greatest is Servant of All
Jesus taught those who were to lead, when He returned to heaven, to serve as they lead. A servant is a follower. Jesus is looking for those who can follow other leaders. He is also looking for leaders who can humbly follow as they lead. A good servant feels more at home taking orders than giving orders.
Dr. Frank Rosser, who served in Nicaragua as a missionary, was speaking to a group of young missionaries, myself included, in June of 1976, when he expressed his concern on this subject:
Missionaries are servants, not bosses. I wish that we could learn this as missionaries. I will tell you this, but many of you will listen and not hear me. You will go out on the mission field, will decide in a short time that you are the boss, and will begin to do things as a boss. This will cause you much heartache and trouble. The missionary and the national pastor should get along together as fellow servants. They should work with each other as a team. Always try to keep this in mind.
The young missionary, when he starts to the field, will always ask me to tell him if there is anything I see that he is doing wrong and then later, when you see some of the things he is doing wrong and try to tell him, many times the missionary blows up, gets mad because he does not want to be told. He has decided he will run it like he wants because he has made himself a boss. This will always cause the missionary trouble and affliction. I do not believe it is of God.
In Mark 10:35-45, we find James and John coming to the Savior with a request. They wanted to be the two followers who would be the honored ones sitting next to Jesus in His glory. Jesus told them that if they were to be so honored, they would have to pay a very heavy price. When the other ten disciples heard this, "they began to be much displeased with James and John."
Jesus observed that all twelve of His disciples needed a message, so He began by reminding them that in the world people are known to be great if they have much authority. Then He gives the lesson about serving: Mark 10:43-45, "But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
It was a lesson that all but one disciple learned well. When Peter wrote the book of II Peter, he refers to himself as "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ." (II Peter 1:1). He refers to himself first as a follower, then as a leader.
James calls himself "James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ." (James 1:1)
Other early Christian leaders caught what Jesus had taught about being a servant leader. Paul, like Peter, says to the Romans, "Paul a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle." This great missionary remembered that he was first a servant.
Jude, most likely the earthly brother of Jesus, also refers to himself as "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ." (Jude 1)
A servant humbly serves his master, losing his pride, and forgetting about his position.
As a student at Hyles-Anderson College in the early 1980′s, Layne Jones, now a missionary to the Philippines, had a friend and classmate, who became discouraged and was planning to quit school. Brother Jones asked his friend not to leave until he had a chance to talk to him. They agreed to talk the following Monday before chapel. Brother Jones’ friend was a good young man but was going through a difficult time.
The following Monday they met. Brother Jones was surprised when his friend informed him that he had changed his mind and decided to stay. Brother Jones asked him what had happened to cause him to reverse his decision. That young Bible college student said he had gone to see Dr. Wendell Evans, the president of the college, and he had told him he was thinking of quitting school. He said Dr. Evans got down on his knees, looked up at that student, and pleaded with him not to make a terrible mistake. It so touched the young man to see Dr. Evans humble himself that he immediately promised to finish school.
Eleanor Chestnut was born in 1868, in Waterloo, Iowa. Her father disappeared and was never seen or heard from again. Not long afterwards her mother apparently died of a broken heart. While living with an aunt, Eleanor heard of a college where she could work her way through school. While at that college, someone preached and pleaded for missionaries. She surrendered to go to the mission field. Later, Eleanor said one reason why she surrendered was because she had no family, and no one would oppose her. She attended medical school, believing the training would help her reach people on the foreign field. After talking a Bible course at Moody Bible Institute, she left for China. The young doctor found a house and set up an operating room in the bathroom.
One day a very poor man, known as a "coolie," came to her because of a sore leg. She discovered the infection was so severe that the leg had to be amputated. Although the operation had gone well, she noticed the flaps of skin could not be united, which would result in a serious infection. She believed that if she allowed this to happen, the people would think she had been careless. After all, her patient was only a coolie. She took a scalpel and cut some skin off her own thigh—without anesthesia! Her skin was used to unite the flaps, and the patient recovered. Someone later saw her limping and asked what was wrong. She replied, "It is nothing."
God used Eleanor Chestnut to win many people to Christ in China. In 1905, a mob of criminals attacked the hospital where she was serving. She went to the authorities to tell them what happened. Instead of seeking a safe place for herself, she went back to the hospital to try to protect her patients. She saw a young boy who had been hit in the head by one of the attackers. He was bleeding profusely. She tore some strips of cloth from her dress and made a bandage. As soon as she was finished, someone from the mob hit her on the head with a club. A short while later, 37-year-old Dr. Chestnut died of her injuries. She was a servant.