The Servant Test
“This is not MY responsibility!”
“I am not his daughter, I am his niece. I am not the one that should be looking after him. I have my own family to tend to.”
All were my responses last August, as I drove to my uncle’s house to take care of yet another crisis. Since being diagnosed with the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s in June, it had fallen to me to become his primary caregiver. My life no longer seemed my own.
I was overwhelmed with the added “burden” on my already full days as I tried to help my uncle. Late night phone calls to find out whether or not it was day time or night time, health issues, help with every day functioning skills, preparing meals, not to mention the worry of him living alone and somehow getting outside during the night and wandering in a confused state, all added to my sleepless nights.
I loved my uncle! He was (is) a smart, strong, funny man who filled my childhood with wonderful memories. I knew he had no one else so I agreed to help out, however, I had no idea how much “helping out” would be required! Soon, my helping out was carried out begrudgingly! I no longer wanted to be the one responsible! Daily, my feelings of resentment, anger and frustration bubbled inside.
By late August, I had reached the end of my rope! I cried out to God.
He did not respond quite the way I expected.
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress… (James 1:27),” bubbled up in my heart.
I hung my head. My uncle was a widow. He was in distress!
“Steph, your approach to this situation is wrong. You are to be a servant to your uncle. Do it as if you were serving me. It is one thing to serve when others see. It is quite another to serve in secret and in spite of how you feel (Matt 25:40)! You need an attitude change.”
Ashamedly, I knew that I was taking a test — and I was failing!
Up to this point, we have learned about, and most of us by now have taken (maybe more than once), 8 of 9 faith tests: the wilderness test, the motivation test, the discouragement test, the failure test, the misunderstanding test, the frustration test, the willfulness test and the waiting (patience) test.
Keep in mind, testing is…
INEVITABLE – It is sure to happen to anyone who follows and lives in the Lord’s grace.
CONTINUAL – It is a continuous process that each Christian will experience.
NECESSARY – Each testing has its purpose to make us…
PRODUCTIVE and INFLUENTIAL and to be…
CRAFTED BY GOD.
The 9th and final faith test believers face is – The Servant Test.
Out of all nine, this one, I believe, is the hardest and the most pivotal test of them all.
What is a servant?
“Servant” is a very common word with a variety of meanings. The most frequent usage is as the equivalent of “slave.” The word is also commonly used to describe a “hired workman” or “hired servant.” A hired servant attends another, performing menial tasks for him and is subject to that person’s command. In other words, a servant has a master and he obeys his master’s every command. For example, Joshua was the servant of Moses, and Elisha was the servant of Elijah (I Kings 19:19-21, II Kings 3:11).
What is servanthood?
Servanthood is the state, or condition, of one who lives as a servant. For believers, servanthood means submission to God first, and then submission to one another. In today’s society, the problem is the “me first” mentality. The desire for self-fulfillment reigns supreme, even among believers, resulting in the servant test being our most failed exam.
Someone once said, “There are many who want to serve God….but only in an advisory position.”
Yet, the one quality which so completely characterizes the life of Jesus Christ is the quality of unselfish servanthood (Mark 10:35-45), especially in His leadership role.
“The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.” ~ J. Carla Northcutt
“To help others become something that they could never on their own become, is putting value into that other person.” ~ Unknown
In order to pass the servant test, we must remember: Servitude always comes before honour.
Joseph served Potiphar.
Joshua served Moses.
Samuel served Eli.
David served Saul.
Elisha served Elijah.
Timothy served Paul.
John Mark served Simon Peter.
The last lesson Christ taught His disciples before Calvary was about being a servant. He used a towel and a pan of water to show who would be the greatest in His Kingdom. He didn’t command His disciples to then go out and do “what” I have done, but rather, to do “as I have done” (John 13:15). They weren’t to become fulltime foot-washers. They were to become full-time servers of men and women. They were to be servant leaders. (Matt 20:28)
Serving others is not easy. It can be tough, demanding of our time, resources and energy. Yet we cannot be effective in the Kingdom without first becoming servants.
The Servant Test reveals our surrender in seven key areas:
1) Surrender of freedom. (Luke 17:10)
2) Surrender of time. (Luke 17:7-8)
3) Surrender of authority. (Luke 7:8)
5) Surrender of preferences. (Matt 26:39)
6) Surrender of purpose. (Mark 10:43-44)
7) Surrender of resources. (Matt 25:16-18)
The Servant Test also reveals where our attitude may need adjusting:
1) Teachable (III John 1:9)
2) Submissive (Matt26:39)
3) Patient (II Tim 2:24)
4) Diligent (Matt 24:46-51)
5) Productive (Matt 25:29-30)
6) Loyal ( Luke 16:13)
7) Integrity (Gal 1:10)
8) Selfless (Acts 20:24)
9) Profitable (I Cor 9:19)
10) Trustworthy (Rev 17:14) (“Faithful” in the Greek is pistos, which means TRUSTWORTHY)
11) Focused (I Cor 7:35)
12) Prepared (Luke 12:47)
HOW DO I SERVE?
The good thing about serving is that you do not need a title in order to serve others. All you need to do is look for needs and then try to meet them. Serving God is serving people…despite how I feel or whether or not it is convenient (Phil 2:5-11). Most often, being a servant starts in your own home and then spreads out into the world around you. The problem is, we fight against serving those close to us because it is so demanding! It is easier to serve once a week at your home church than to serve others in your home on a daily basis. However, refusing to serve those God has already placed in your realm of influence will limit your ability to serve in God’s bigger picture.
Did my circumstance change after that day in late August?
Are there still days when I feel overwhelmed and just as lost and confused as my uncle as I try to help him navigate through the stages of Alzheimer’s? YES! Yet, with the Holy Spirit’s help, my attitude is constantly being adjusted and I am learning to be a servant.
All believers must settle the issue of servanthood in order to be effective in God’s Kingdom (Matt 20:26-28).
Joseph, Joshua, Samuel, David, Elisha, Timothy, and John Mark, all were fervent servants who left behind legacies that are still influencing the world thousands of years AFTER their deaths.
Don’t you desire to leave behind the very same legacy?
We all long to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful SERVANT.”
What we’ll hear depends upon how we do with The Servant Test.
How are YOU doing?