How Big Is Your Servant’s Towel?
Coming across leaders in ministry who seemed to have put their servant’s towel on an egotistical power wash and shrunk it down in size can be a little unsettling. Unless they are called to help wash the feet of Barbie dolls, their face cloth ministry rather than a servant’s towel ministry says more about them than of who Jesus is. Motivational speaker, Rick Rigsby, points out that you need to “make sure your servant’s towel is bigger than your ego.” So, how big is your servant’s towel?
It has been said that “true ministry is used for the benefit of others”. It lets people know that regardless of your position, title, or executive car parking space, washing people’s feet with your servant’s towel is what ministry is all about. I know, the thought of washing someone’s dirty, smelly feet can make your stomach churn. But in Matthew chapter 20, Jesus shows how our attitude toward leadership can become more about position than of servanthood.
The mother of James and John asks Jesus to give her His word that her two sons will be awarded the highest places of honour in His kingdom. The motive behind this question was clear to Jesus. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” (Matthew 20:24-28. MSG)
If we’re not careful, we too can shift our mindset to comparing our ministry to others by focusing on who will get rewarded for being the most loyal and the hardest worker on the team. Our leadership gift transfers from “what can I give to others?” to “what can I get for myself?”
The crucial component of longevity within leadership is to learn to use your servant’s towel well and to use it often. When Jesus washed the disciple’s feet in John chapter 13, He was sealing the deal on their new inheritance. By removing their sandals, which was a sign of a covenant between two people in Hebrew culture, and washing their feet, Jesus was cleansing them so that they’d receive a new inheritance and the authority that went with this inheritance. “Do you understand what I just did?” Jesus said. “You’ve called me your teacher and lord, and you’re right, for that is who I am. So, if I’m your teacher and lord and have just washed your dirty feet, then you should follow the example that I’ve set for you and wash one another’s dirty feet.”
Jesus tells His disciples that if they want to live a blessed, abundant life in their ministry, then they need to get out their servant’s towel and wash each other’s feet. The kingdom demanded this act of service from them because within the dirty, smelly filth there is an opportunity for each one of us to show people how Jesus cleanses their past through His grace. We need to understand that our identity is not found in the title of a leader; it is found in Jesus. Our new inheritance requires us to be cleansed so that we can lead people to Jesus with clean hands and a pure heart. The path to greatness in leadership is one of self-sacrificial service that Jesus modelled throughout His ministry. The hallmarks to look for in a good leader are love, humility, and service to others. If you have this mindset within your leadership, you’re on the right track because this is where you’ll see those servant’s towels expand and become enormous!
So, how big is your servant’s towel?
I hope it’s big enough to wash plenty of dirty, smelly feet!
Have you had an opportunity to use your servant’s towel in leadership by showing people the cleansing grace of Jesus? How have you done this?