Alex Chediak is an interesting guy. He’s a professor of physics and engineering at California Baptist University. But don’t let that intimidate you. He’s also very cool and down-to-earth as you can tell by the title of his newest book, Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World! You’ll find his short message to us today to be both relevant and inspiring.
Back to School: Thoughts on Serving and Greatness, by Alex Chediak
Jesus washed His disciples’ feet to communicate a principle: Christian leaders are to be servants. They get under others to lift them up, not over others to get ego gratification. (See this sermon.)
You call me Teacher and Lord…If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done to you (John 13:13-15).
As a college professor I see many ways to apply this. But the principles Jesus taught extend to anyone who wishes to influence others for their eternal good.
The Greater serves the Lesser. If we’re to imitate Jesus, we must see ourselves as called to serve those in our midst, especially if they have a lower status. Jesus was infinitely superior to His disciples, yet He took on the role of a servant among them. The foot washing was symbolic of the way he treated those who, in the world’s eyes, should be washing his feet instead.
Managers serve Employees. How? By caring for them as human beings, not as mere tools to be used for his or her own professional advancement. By empowering them rather than controlling them. By respecting the imago dei in them. By directing them to areas of overlap between institutional objectives and their unique skill sets. Can you see how such service-driven management benefits both employees and institutions?
Service is the path to Leadership. If you are someone’s boss, you have positional authority. But that won’t cause people to follow you at the deepest level. That kind of influence must be earned over time, as others see you as having their best interests in mind. See Phil 2:3-8. When those you aspire to lead become assured of your love, only then will they follow.
Service is the path to Greatness. In Jesus’ economy, serving becomes the path to greatness. When we lose and forget ourselves in the process of serving others, of helping them accomplish their potential and achieve a measure of greatness, we too become great—though we’re unlikely to spend much time dwelling on that. The joy of playing a role in the greatness of others, for Christ’s sake, is its own reward.
Where do we see this displayed most clearly? In the life of Jesus. And where do we see the blazing center of these principles? In the death of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man. He did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
How can you and I walk in his steps today?
Follow Alex on Twitter @chediak and learn more about Alex’s work at his site.