Jesus words today are hard for me to put myself into. I have never had servants nor been a servant. I understand service from the perspective of a mother or an employee though. I also understand the attitude of unworthiness that Jesus refers to. This is NOT the attitude of most people today. Too often I have to count myself in that number.
The person Jesus is using in His example is first and foremost a servant. His role is to see to the needs of his master above anything else, including his own needs. After laboring in the field or tending sheep all day he was to come in, clean himself up and serve dinner to the master. THEN he could tend to his own needs for food and rest. I’m curious to know if the master had been toiling away all day too.
As a mother, I had to put my children’s needs above my own. When they were infants, my whole day revolved around their needs. Each cry would end whatever it was that I was doing and bring my whole focus onto their needs.
When functioning as an employee, especially in a support role, you have to set your needs aside also. When a critical project is underway, longer days are often called for. The work day gets extended and lunches shortened or cancelled. Your own projects are also pushed aside in favor of the one the boss (master) wants done.
Jesus doesn’t specify the “reward” or “payment” for the servant, but it had to come in one form or another. The servant didn’t expect thanks. He also didn’t expect or accept the master serving him. This would have been wrong! The servant’s payment or reward was enough. Nothing more was asked for or expected. It was their job and nothing more.
As a mother I certainly didn’t expect a “thank you” from my infants. I was rewarded instead with smiles and by the health of my baby. As my children grew I began to get thank yous. These weren’t asked for or expected but they were welcome. My favorites were the ones when they would tell me how much they enjoyed their dinner. My response would always be, “I thank you and Betty Crocker thanks you.” This was my job and my heart felt pleasure.
In the role of employee, the paycheck is the reward. Many of us want the extra thank yous too though. But nothing else is required. If we are doing our job we will be rewarded.
Jesus says that this is how we are to serve in His Kingdom. We are to put His priorities above our own. We are to work until our job is done. Then our needs will take center stage. When we put Him first, He cares for our needs. The servant isn’t left cold and naked while plowing the field. He is clothed and fed in order to be able to do the job. God cares for us more than any master ever could. But even He doesn’t put our needs and wants above His own. He knows what is best and He keeps us walking on His paths. What He has waiting for us at the end is worth every effort we put in and then some! We won’t ever come close to earning the “wage” He is offering!
Have you ever felt like a fraud in a new job? You sell yourself and promote your skills during the interview, but when the job actually starts you are out of your element and feel like a phony. I know I have. The biggest examples of this were when I had just graduated from college after receiving one degree or another. Then I went out into the work field and “pretended” my way into my first job. That is often the way I feel when stepping into a new ministry area. I have the basic skills but don’t know how to employ them. I don’t even know if the skills I have been trained in are correct when I begin using them. I’m just hoping for the best and that no one notices how inept I really am. If/When I finally succeed at the new job I am as surprised as anyone. Probably more so because I know how unworthy I really am to have the position in the first place.
Over time, I learn to do the job I was hired for and hopefully I learn to do it very well. But this is my job and my reward was already agreed upon. I have earned nothing more. I am unworthy or undeserving of any extra honor. If I go above and beyond the job, then I may receive more, but it is not required of my employer. Their judgement is the one that rules on that issue.
Service to God is the same. He calls me to do certain things. Most of them are the same things He calls all of us to; to love Him above all else, to love one another, to forgive as He forgave, and to share His gospel of truth. In return for my “service” He has made a promise to me of everlasting life. No matter how hard I work at doing what He has called me to, His payment is WAY more than I deserve. The primary reason for that is that I DON’T do my job as well as I should or could. I fall short many times. I am unworthy of my reward, yet He still holds it for me. A second reason is that I sometimes push for the thank yous. “If I’m doing what He called me to do, shouldn’t He be blessing me more?” From the calling that I’m engaging in right now (journaling with my bible), I deeply desire the positive comments. I shouldn’t, but I do. I use the talents He gave me and share the words He puts in my heart and expect to receive personal rewards for it. SHAME ON ME! I am simply the servant. I am unworthy of the praise, I am simply doing the job He gave me to do.
On a good note though, I love reading the comments about how He has used this blog to touch others’ lives. I love seeing that His words can reach into places I could never go. I am in awe of what He has begun! ALL GLORY BELONGS TO HIM.
Father God, thank You for using me, Your more than imperfect servant. Forgive me for my pride. Forgive me for craving the approval of others. Your approval is all I really need. Thank You for showing me the reach You have. I am one voice among many and not even the most eloquent or educated. Thank You for letting me share what You share with me.
I don’t fully understand the place of the servant. I have never truly walked in those shoes. But I appreciate the things You have shown me that bring me some understanding of this parable. I truly am Your unworthy servant. Thank You for having faith in me to engage in this job. I leave all the success in Your hands. I will do all I have been taught and pray that I do the job well that You set before me. I can do nothing less.