In John 13:1-17NKJV, Jesus, the Son of God washed the feet of the disciples, a duty usually done by the lowest servant in the Jewish society. Peter did not see that as something he was prepared to do when Jesus wanted to wash his feet. Initially, he would not allow Him until Jesus said if He did not wash his feet, he had no part in him. After washing their feet, Jesus said, “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 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 should do as I have done to you” (John 13:13-15 NKJV).
Though the washing of the feet of the disciples was a symbol of spiritual cleansing, it was also a lesson in leadership ¬– a leader is a servant. There are three things that Jesus knew, which made Him serve humbly. These we must also know to be able to serve.
1. Jesus knew the Father had given all things into His hands (John 13:3NKJV). Jesus could afford to come so low to wash the feet of the disciples because He knew that God had already given all things into His hands. Though it might not appear to be so, He knew that God had already given all things into His hands. The fact that the Managing Director of a company decides to personally serve drinks to his staff that come to his house does not remove the fact that they are his subordinates. If he feels he has now become their messenger because of that occasion, something must be wrong with him.
It’s a wrong understanding of leadership to think that once we become a leader, we have many people to serve us, leaving little or nothing for us to do. No. People serve a leader to help him serve them better, to help him perform his primary functions. It is not to make him see himself as a god. Just like our lecturer Dr Iyowuna Okari taught, when she was the leader of the prayer squad she used to clean the seats until her subordinates started doing it and from there they took over the cleaning of the seats, this removed the burden from her and made her work easier.
Jesus was secure because He knew everything had been given into His hands. He did not feel threatened by anything. ( Ephesians 1:22NKJV) says God put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.
Jesus could wash the feet of the disciples, serving them at that lowest level because He knew that all things had been given to Him. We will be able to serve anywhere we find ourselves if you have the same understanding. what applies to Jesus also applies to us. God has already given all things into our hands too.
The Bible says, we are seated with Jesus at the right hand of the Father, far above principality and power where everything has been given unto him and all things are under his feet. When God gave everything into the hand of Jesus, you were in Jesus. So, He gave everything to us, too (Ephesians 1:20-21, 2:5-6NKJV). We have been given the same authority that Jesus was given.
2. Jesus knew that He came from God (John 13:3NKJV). Jesus knew that He was not of this earth. He knew His source; therefore, He served. He knew that serving did not reduce who He was. The same applies to us.
Joseph was in prison but that did not make him feel like a prisoner. We came from God. He is our maker. He has good thoughts concerning us, thoughts of peace and not of evil and to take us to an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11NKJV). We are not here alone, going through what we are going through. His presence is with us if we have accepted the Lordship of Jesus (Isaiah 43:1-2NKJV).
3. Jesus knew that He would go back to God (John 13:3 NKJV). He knew His sojourn on earth was not the end of everything. He knew He came from God and would return to God. He knew that He was accountable to God for His life on earth. He knew He could not live His life to do His own will. He knew that His life was not supposed to be lived to glorify Himself. He knew that his Father was still working, and he must work, too (John 5:17 NKJV).
The truth applies to us too. We came from God, and we will return to Him to give account of everything we have done on the earth (Romans 14:12, Matthew 12: 36NKJV). Knowing this should make us sober to live our life in such a way that He will be pleased with us. We are not to live our lives for ourselves. We will go back to God one day. It has been given unto man to die once and after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27NKJV). Service keeps us humble. Don’t always let who you are, go to your head; let it not inflate your ego. There is always somebody better than you! Stoop low and wash somebody’s feet. Don’t be too conscious of your position.
These three truths will give us the confidence to serve people in a humble manner. The knowledge of these things would not only build in us a robust self-esteem, but it would also keep us humble to be able to serve others without difficulty, especially those under us. We know that those we serve may not reward us either sufficiently or at all, but God the rewarder will do when we return to him. It does not end here on earth (Hebrews 11:6NKJV).
The Bible says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. (Colossians 3:23NKJV). The Bible also says we should do whatsoever we do; do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10: 31NKJV). Every service we render to another man or organization is to the Lord, and not to the man or the institution. When we begin to view service from this perspective, we will be free to offer service, because, ultimately, it is not man that will reward us.