Justin Boothby | Matthew 20:28 | Empathetic Servant
When I was 22 I only had a few months left at Southeastern University (SEU focused a lot on Matthew 20:28 and servant leadership). I was working a full 18 credit load and I was also the Middle School Pastor at Auburndale Life Church. To say that my life was a bit crazy is an understatement. I’m still not sure how many all-nighters I pulled reading and writing through the night, but it was a lot.
I remember my Chapel credits were running low (Yes, even us “Theology Students” had poor Chapel credits sometimes) and they told us if we brought in canned goods we could get extra credits. So one night I went to the local grocery store to pick up a few items. When I came out I met a man named Brad who was homeless and currently sitting on the side of the building trying to collect items to survive.
The short story is that Brad had some bad luck hit him and he lost everything. That night, amid all the things I had going on, I sat next to Brad. I listened to his story. I empathized with him. I sat there with him as people passed him by and scoffed at him as if he was a lesser human being because he was homeless. For a split moment I was able to have a glimpse into what his daily life was like. We walk past homeless people scoffing and treating them as lesser people. And then we have the audacity to say, “It’s their own fault they’re in that position”? Sometimes it may be true, but who is the one keeping them there?
This week, we’re focused on Matthew 20:28. Jesus says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve others, and be a ransom for many.” This picture is perfectly demonstrated the night of Jesus’ betrayal as he got down to wash his disciples’ feet. Jesus was/is a servant of his Father and also a servant to mankind. Likewise, Jesus expects the same from us. To follow Christ means washing the feet of those around you.
So how can we be better Empathetic Servants of God?
- Sit Out Of Your Comfort Zone
It’s often said to “step out of your comfort zone.” But stepping out isn’t enough. If you truly want to see lives changed and you want to be a servant of Jesus, you must be willing to sit, eat, and listen to the homeless, widows, orphans, drug addicts, “sinners,” and others who are facing difficult situations. Serving the food pantry is great! We did that when I was a Youth Pastor. That’s stepping out. But are you willing to sit with those people? Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” How does Matthew 20:28 and John 13 revolutionize the way you serve and treat people?
- It’s About People and Their Stories
When you sit with sinners you recognize that it’s not about you. It’s not about you getting your “Christian Duty” in for the week. These people who are going through tough times are not your Christian Good Works Vending Machines. It’s about listening to their stories. It’s about sharing in their burden and pain like Jesus does with us. Jesus says, “ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40). Jesus is so intertwined and intimately involved with the Church that Jesus says to Saul on the road to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). When you scoff at the homeless, the downtrodden, and those oppressed and dealing with pain, you scoff at Jesus himself.
- Don’t Wait
I got to know Brad really well the next few months. The following year I was told that Brad had passed away. There was no way for me to stay in contact with him after I left. Don’t wait. It may be too late for someone that God is calling you to reach. Be active and intentional about reaching your community. If your church isn’t doing anything already, there are plenty of other options available for you. Tell us what area you’re living in, who you’d like to serve, and we’ll connect you with the people that will get you serving in no time.
You have an opportunity to change your world! Don’t wait. Sit out of your comfort zone and listen to the stories of those who just want to be heard. Who just want to feel like someone cares about them. Empowering Hope is our name, but it’s also what we want to bring to the world. Not just a hope that things can be better. But we want people to be empowered, encouraged, and equipped to make that hope a reality through Jesus.
Be encouraged and empowered this week. If there is anything we can be doing to help you this week, we want to come along side you as well and help you in your season. Let us know how we can help by going to our Prayer Wall Here. You can post publicly or anonymously.
About Justin Boothby