At least three times each year I interact with this quote as I talk about heroism and a servants heart with people newly assigned to overseas ministry assignments. I start with Arthur Ashe and then move to Jesus and what he has to say in John 13. It’s powerful stuff. Our 21st century minds struggle to understand the cultural earthquake Jesus set off when he started washing his disciples’ feet. It was emotional, cultural, and spiritual shock and awe. I challenge those in the room to follow this example. I ask them to willingly serve, and then I provide an opportunity for them to serve each other.
Sunday morning we started our day with those thoughts and actions. By Sunday evening I was emotionally and physically spent. I’d given about all I had to give, but there was still more to be done. The training equipment and supplies needed to be broken down and tidied up. Eventually dinner needed to be cleaned up. As I wound electric cords and sorted through papers, I was pleased to watch the trainees deep in conversation and generally enjoying each other’s company. A few hours later as I washed dishes and cleaned the kitchen I started to a mental monologue containing lots of grumbling about my solo efforts.
Suddenly the words from my morning talk popped into my mind. If I could only practice what I preach! I sheepishly apologized to God for my bad attitude and hypocrisy. I wish I could say I cheerfully finished the dinner chores. However, I can report I had an attitude adjustment for the better. When someone thanked me for cleaning up, I could truthfully say, “It’s my pleasure.”
It’s a good thing I lead that session three times a year. I’m pretty sure I need the regular reminders that serving others at whatever the cost is the heroism Jesus lived. I want that. I want to practice what I preach.
photo courtesy of Stephen J. Sullivan