Servant: one that serves others; one who is privately employed to do domestic services.
The very idea of a servant in our culture can be demeaning: someone who performs duties for another. Sadly, the idea of servants has grown away from what God intended with the motivational gift of servant. I was discussing spiritual gifts with a coworker, and when I mentioned to her that she might be a servant gift, she immediately expressed disdain by stating that she wasn’t and, in essence, turning up her nose. She even deflected the idea to another person that she knew—maybe they were a servant, but not her, because to her, it seemed to be a derogatory term. And yet she ignored the basic motivation in her to meet the needs of comfort and food—which she does every single day in our office.
If our culture has devalued servants, what did God really plan for this gift? God intended for the servant to walk in maturity and health and to have great spiritual authority in areas such as caring for and ministering to leaders, restoring families, and loving difficult people who are deeply wounded and fearful of the truth. These are important roles in the church that only servants can fill! So how can we, as Christians, value servants and help them find fulfillment? I recommend three ways to help servants reach their full potential both inside and outside the body of Christ:
- We must treat servants with respect and dignity. Servants embrace peace at any cost, often at the expense of being the victim while tolerating indignity and shaming. This is especially true for male servants who may perceive their gift as “weakness” and therefore choose not to walk in it. In order help servants overcome these things, we must encourage and love them while holding them in high esteem.
- We must help them believe the truth about who they are in Christ. “Servants tend to believe lies about themselves that cause them not to feel legitimate or adequate for spiritual responsibilities or spiritual authority. They will always tell you someone else is better qualified” (Wale, 2007). I have a servant friend who does not believe she is capable of serving on church staff—which she has done for the last two years! Every chance that I get, I remind her that she is gifted supernaturally to do many incredible things (Philippians 4:13), including the things she doesn’t believe she can do.
- We must allow them to serve. Servants are valuable to the church because they do the work that others often overlook. Though they have a difficult time accepting praise and honor for what they do, we must still appreciate them and celebrate them. We especially must encourage male servants by affirming their God-given gifts and reminding them of the strong spiritual authority God has granted them.
The body of Christ desperately needs mature servant gifts to walk in their gifting without fear or shame. We can help servants become who God meant them to be!
Do you know any servants in your life or church? How do you support the servant gifts in your life?