When you were a child, did you ever play the game King of the Hill? If you didn’t, the game is just as it sounds. Players gather around a hill and then scratch, claw, bite, push, pull, and do whatever it takes to be the one standing on the hill when the game ends. But let’s be honest--that is not a game that is restricted to the playground in elementary school. Isn’t that what life looks like sometimes? As we grow up, the message ingrained in our minds is to chase hard after wealth, success, influence, and luxury. Do whatever it takes, but fight to be King of the Hill.
The mentality of that game stands in stark contrast to what it means to follow Jesus. A life of radical humility is not an easy to path to walk, but it is the path we’ve been called to. Jesus made Himself nothing and then turned to us as His followers and said, “Follow me. Follow me into obscurity. Follow me into selflessness. Follow me into an others-focused life. Follow me into my kingdom, the way is paved with radical humility.”
If this is a blueprint for what our lives are intended to look like, how are we doing? To answer, consider the following questions:
- Is your life built upon finding more ways to be served? Or finding more ways to serve?
- Do you find yourself daydreaming about how to move higher on the proverbial ladder? Or moving lower in practical ways?
- Are you striving to create additional layers of material comfort in your life? Or are you diligently working to reallocate possessions to those in urgent need?
Imagine that after you have died, a headstone is placed at your grave, and the etched epitaph reads, “Not to be served, but to serve.” Now imagine the people who knew you best and loved you most showed up to visit your grave and they read that inscription. How would they respond? Would they think, That’s not exactly accurate? Or would they quietly nod their head in agreement, recognizing how well those words capture your life story?
Each of us would love to have the words “Not to be served, but to serve” etched on our headstone. But even more important for followers of Jesus is to have those words etched on your heart.
Serving, instead of being served, sounds so poetic, but it can end up being quite painful. Just consider Jesus. He came from heaven to earth to serve people. Not to be served by people, but to serve people, and the very people He came to serve placed Him not so gently on a cross. I am not suggesting that by living a life of selfless service that you are destined for persecution, but don’t be surprised if it happens. The road paved with selfless service is the road less traveled; it is a road that leads against the flow of culture, a road marked by obscurity, and perhaps pain, but most importantly a road that leads to life.