We are called to have servant’s hearts; to be servants of God.
What does it mean to have a servant’s heart? My initial search to understand led me to a website listing different Chick-fil-A interview questions. That makes sense - Chick-fil-A is known for their religious background and their compassionate customer service, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. Further investigation led me to this understanding: A servant’s heart means to have a mindset or a desire to selflessly and sacrificially serve others, regardless of your feelings towards them or what it may cost you. This means you must put aside any feelings of bitterness or resentment, and live to serve anyone whose path you may cross without hesitation.
Some days (a lot of days) practicing a servant’s heart may seem like a tall order. Nevertheless, we are called to this kind of love and compassion every day. Like the story of Samuel, we must be attentive to the voice of the Lord and prepared to obey the words that he speaks to us. Our conversation with the Lord should always sound like his,
“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)
When God talks, we listen. When He asks us to act, we do. That is what creates a servant’s heart within us, that is what pleases the Lord. Oftentimes we can fall into the trap of the idea that serving God means doing great things and being a great person. Doing great things isn't wrong, but we must make sure that they are the ones God desires. We could spend our whole lives in mission, starting ministries, or serving in different positions at our church - but none of it would matter if we were ignoring the one thing God was asking of us.
Living Like Rebekah
We can find a great example of what living with a servant heart means in the story of Rebekah. Many of you may only remember the story where Rebekah manipulates her husband into blessing her favorite child over the eldest. For a long time this was my only impression of her as well, however, there is so much to learn from her when we first encounter her in scripture. Rebekah is kind, compassionate, and selfless. She has a servant’s heart.
Rebekah’s story began when Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, decided he did not want his son Isaac to marry one of the pagan Canaanite women in the surrounding area. Thus, he sent his servant, Eliezer, under oath to his homeland in search of a wife fit for his son. When Eliezer arrived in the town he went to the local well, waiting for the women in the area to come with their jars in the evening. He prayed that the right girl would not only offer him a drink, but offer to water his ten camels as well. He had scarcely finished speaking when Rebekah approached the well. The servant ran up to her asking for a drink, to which she replied,
“‘Drink, sir,’ she replied, and quickly lowering the jug into her hand, she gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw water for your camels, too, until they have finished drinking.’” (Genesis 24:18-19)
After the camels had had their fill, Eliezer asked Rebekah if she had a place in which he could stay the night. She informed him he was welcome at her family’s home, and ran ahead to inform her family and prepare the arrangements. The servant spent the night eating and drinking with her family, informing them of Abraham’s request and Rebekah’s answer to his prayer. In the morning he expressed that he wished to return to his master immediately so that he could put his mind at ease. The family was hesitant to let Rebekah leave so quickly, but allowed her to make the decision if she would stay for 10 days or leave right away. She said simply,
“I will go.”
Let’s break down Rebekah’s choices in this passage. First, the watering of the servant’s camels. This task would not have been an easy one. She would have had to fill the jar, bring it to each of the animals, continuing these steps until each camel had had its fill. This task required patience and a kind heart, both qualities of a servant heart. In fact, servanthood is not just doing what we are asked to do, but rather going above and beyond to serve in ways that may be challenging or exhaust us. Rebekah offered to water the servant’s camels out of the good of her own heart, not because the servant expressed this desire. Her actions were selfless, sacrificial, and compassionate. How many times do we find ourselves doing the bare minimum at work, in school, or to help a friend or family member? It is in these moments that we can remember the example Rebekah set for us, and practice offering ourselves fully to those in need of our help.
The second example of a servant’s heart in Rebekah’s story reveals itself when she offers to let the servant stay with her family, running ahead of him to prepare their home. Her lack of hesitation sets another great example for us. Oftentimes we find that may approach a request with the “what’s in it for me?” mentality. However, it is important to understand that not all kindness comes with strings attached. In fact, we are always called to be compassionate without expectation of anything in return. Remember that God sent the greatest example of a servant’s heart in his son, Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross for us because he loved us. Each one of us. No strings attached. Jesus gave us the greatest act of kindness and love. He gave us the most selfless, sacrificial act of all time. Regardless of our feelings towards or the cost to him, Jesus listened to the one thing God was asking of him without hesitation. ‘
Finally, we see Rebekah’s servant heart shine through in her immediate decision to return with Eliezer to Isaac and Abraham. Her answer is simple, “I will go.” Rebekah recognized that God was calling her and did not hesitate to answer. She faced her future fearlessly, trusting in God’s plan for her. As far as we know, Rebekah was not looking for a husband that day at the well. She was simply going about her daily tasks when suddenly God arranged a marriage for her. Some days God’s plan may take us by surprise, but that is the beauty of it. He knows what is best for us and what’s in store. He is able to provide us with new relationships, healing, and relief in unexpected and quick ways when His timing is fulfilled. Thus, when God is calling us to do something we should do it without delay. All anxiety about our decisions comes from the devil, so we must place our trust in the Lord and his providential will, knowing we are safe in His hands.
Being a servant God will not always be easy. Sometimes God is calling us to what appears to be the most difficult thing in our life at the moment. However, we must persevere. Our kindness, compassion, and sacrifice will flower beautifully. When we act in love we act in the name of God. Thus, we should always strive to live as His servants, to give ourselves completely to His will.