Benny Pate (L) and Dennis Rogers – 2013
There are people who cross our paths over our lifetime that we never forget. This article is about servanthood and two very special people immediately came to mind as I thought about the topic. Both of these Christian men had a profound effect on me and my wife at just the right time in our lives. They are Benny Pate and Dennis Rogers. Benny currently specializes in Leadership Ministries and Dennis currently specializes in Collegiate Ministries. Each is an employee of the Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) and each is involved more than full-time in Christian ministry all over the state of Georgia. Their primary function … equip the saints for God’s service. I’m not sure you can really call either of these men an “employee.” Each loves what they do so much that it never appears like they are “working” as they tirelessly serve others. They not only love their job, they love Jesus and they love people. Both men possess an outstanding attitude of service. So, perhaps a better way to describe what these two fine gentlemen do for the GBC is to call them “servants.”
In the context of this article, just what do I mean by the term servant? And what is it about these two men that qualify them to be called a servant? Let’s turn to the scriptures for an example of a servant that each of us should be emulating in both attitude and action.
Scripture: (all ESV unless otherwise noted)
John 13:1-17 – Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. …”
In our focus scripture passage taken from John chapter thirteen, Jesus provides a profound example of servanthood as he humbles Himself and washes the feet of His disciples. The event took place after The Last Supper, just prior to the Feast of the Passover. Jesus knew that He would soon be unjustly accused, condemned to death, brutally beaten, and crucified on a cross on the lonely hill called “Golgotha,” the place of the skull. Yet even when facing such seemingly impending personal doom, Jesus put aside his position as their Master teacher and leader, assumed the role of the servant and performed this act of service in complete humility. He personally demonstrated what it truly means to be God’s servant.
In essence, Jesus was/is teaching that no matter how bad things may be going for us, we are to still to live above our circumstances and serve others. Why? Could it be that as Christians we, too, will soon be at home with our Father in Heaven? By His unselfish act of washing their feet, Jesus showed that He loved His disciples completely … even the one who would betray Him.
Jesus is also teaching that we are to deal with our past and prepare ourselves for the future. In dealing with the past, we are to confess our sins and be cleansed from all unrighteousness, thus preparing us to be God’s faithful servants to others (1 John 1:9). As for the future, in the overall scheme of things, we will only be here on earth for a little while. Jesus has gone before us to prepare a place in Heaven where we will receive permanent deliverance from our earthly illnesses, anxieties, trials and tribulations. Of this, the Christian can be assured. In the meantime, we are to not only have an attitude of service, we are to act it out. In John 13:17, Jesus said “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. …”
It is so true that God wants His children to be happy. No Christian should live an unhappy existence. Happy, well-adjusted Christians are pleasing to the Father. But God wants much more from His children than mere happiness. God wants His children to be His servants and exhibit A Servant’s Attitude toward others. That is exactly what Benny Pate and Dennis Rogers have demonstrated to thousands over the life of their ministry. Each are great communicators … one on one, to small groups, and to large crowds. Each sacrifice of their personal time traveling great distances to speak, provide wise counsel, and serve the needs of others. Each are humble, approachable and demonstrate the love of Jesus as they go about their personal and professional lives. Each possess A Servant’s Attitude as demonstrated by Jesus. And while neither has literally washed my feet as Jesus did for His disciples, each has symbolically washed my feet countless times as His faithful servants.
Oh, that I could be such a servant! Are you such a servant?
See my companion article, The Servant Who Suffered for Us, written in May of 2011, for additional insight on the servanthood of Jesus.
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