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Servanthood: A Greatness That Descends

We were in the middle of a Sunday evening service when a drunk stumbled into the church. My dad was leading worship. The man staggered all the way down the aisle until he literally fell on his knees at the altar.

My dad immediately turned the service over to my mom, walked across to the desperate man, and knelt down beside him. As dad put his arm around the man and prayed for him, the man began to weep. As my dad entered into his pain, despair, and suffering, he was able to lead the man to Jesus Christ.

Dan Erickson is founder of People Matter Ministries

Dan Erickson is founder of People Matter Ministries

From where I sat observing, I saw only a smelly, nasty drunk. But my dad saw a man without a shepherd, felt compassion for him, and entered into his pain. (Mk 6:34)

Your Love + Your Humility + Your Service = True Servanthood

Looking back, I now know what I saw at that altar years ago: greatness descending. You will never be as great as when you are descending, becoming a servant. If we are going to become truly great we have to have a greatness that is willing to descend with an attitude of true humility.

Paul wrote to the Philippians about the attitude of true servanthood. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5–7)

The kind of servanthood that Christ—and my dad —demonstrated was countercultural. Descending is normally reserved for losers, cowards, failures, and the weak. Our society tells us to avoid this at all costs. Ascending is reserved for winners, heroes, the successful, the strong, and the proud. Choosing to serve others is weak!

There is a contradiction between the culture’s view and God’s view. The culture says, rise to the highest level of your company, rake in a lot of money, succeed at what does not matter and you will be called great. The only direction is up!

God’s view is the true way to eternal success: True greatness is not a measure of self-will or self-achievement but rather self-abandonment. The more you are willing to give up, the more you truly gain. Succeeding at what really matter is choosing to become a servant.

Just before the Last Supper, in John 13 Jesus demonstrated true love, humility, and servanthood to His disciples by washing their feet. He closed with this statement:

“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. I tell you the truth, 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 13:13–17)

This demonstration by Jesus was not just about washing feet. It was about love, humility, and service. The role of the servant is not only the best way to live, but the only way to live. When you begin to practice servanthood, you live the way of the cross. You become a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable in God’s sight.

Servanthood is about position that is worked out after love and humility are worked in. It is how we seek to live out our potential and our destiny. When we demonstrate unconditional love, unapologetic humility, and uncompromising servanthood, we will live a life that will descend into true greatness.

Are you willing to lose it all in order to gain it all? Are you willing to descend in order to ascend? Moving down is the only way to become great in God’s eyes, and nothing else matters. It is not the best path to greatness; it is the only path to true and eternal greatness. It is only then you can imagine His possibilities!