The two words as far as I am concerned, cannot function very well without the help of each other. Often times, when the word "servant" is being mentioned, people usually mistake it to mean slave, whereas a slave, according to Oxford Dictionary of current English means, a person who was the legal property of another person and was forced to obey him. The second definition says that a slave is a person who is strongly influenced or controlled by something for example; somebody can be a slave to alcohol, drugs, Indian hemp or even sexual immortality. This is because such a person has allowed that bad habit to have rulership over his or her life. Now, the above given topic says "Servant and Service". Who is a servant and what is service? Please pardon me for having asked gross questions.
However, having gone through my Oxford Dictionary of Current English, I was able to come out with a single definition. It defines it as a person employed to perform domestic duties in a household or for a person. But the same dictionary gave about six or more different definitions of service which are as follows;
1. The action of serving;
2. The period of employment with an organization;
3. Help or advice;
4. A formal ceremony of religious worship;
5. A system supplying a public need such as transport or utilities such as water;
6. A department or organization runs by the state etc.
Therefore, it should be noted that the person or persons rendering services or leading in the above listed offices or establishment are servants. Today, the bone of contention is centered on why majority of people normally pick offence when addressed as servants in our various fields of endeavours. Let us pause for a while and think deeply on so many areas and capacities where one is expected to serve as a servant.
1. As a father or mother in your individual families, you are a servant to your children
2. As a landlord in your compound, you are a servant to your tenants.
3. As a classroom teacher in school, you are a servant to your students.
4. As a doctor in the hospital, you are a servant to the staff nurse, other nurses
5. As a commercial driver, you remain a servant to your passengers
6. As a bus conductor, you are a servant to your driver and passengers.
7. As a parish priest, you are a servant to your parishioners.
8. As a Bishop, you are a servant to your priests and catholic faithful in your
9. As a writer, you remain a servant to those who read your articles
10. As a Local Government Chairman, you are a servant to your people at the
11. Even as a governor, you are serving the people in your state.
Worthy of note is the good example shown by the former governor of Niger - State, His Excellency Alhaji Aliyu Babangida who acknowledged that he was a servant during his tenure by choosing a title as "Chief Servant of Niger - State". Though, he attached an adjective "chief which qualifies the noun "servant" in his title.
Meanwhile, it should be recalled that St. John Paul the 2nd, on assumption of office as a Pope in 1978 took up a title as "Savan, Savantio Dei" meaning servant to the servants of God. Such title depicts humility in the service of God and Humanity. In the Gospel of St. John 13:4-15, Jesus Christ humbled Himself and set an example worthy of emulation by washing the feet of his apostles. After washing their feet, He said to them, "Do you know what I the Lord has done to you? I am giving you example, that you all may do as I have done to you". Mind you, this work of washing somebody's feet is meant for the slaves according to the concept of the Jewish tradition, especially in the case of a stranger to the house. But Jesus Christ did it to teach lessons to the proud hearted.
More so, the word "Minister" means a head of government department. It also mean a diplomat representing a state or a king or queen, in a foreign country. But "minister" from the original Latin concept means nothing but a servant. Today, it is a pity and quite unfortunate to say that our present day ministers and even in the churches will feel disrespected when addressed as servants. The word "honourable" must come in before minister, otherwise the expected earthly honours and praises will amount to nothing but a total annihilation. The apostle Peter sees humility as a direct opposite of pride. The earthly titles have made us to forsake the realities of humility to an extent that even a councilor in Local Government Area must also sub-merge his real name to the title "honourable" so as to feel good and respected in the society.
The Gospel of Mark 10:35 -45 is talking about servant and serving. Verse 43 - 45 summarized it all by saying that if one of us want to be great he/she must be the servant of the rest; and if one of us wants to be first he/she must be the slave of all, for even the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and offer His life as a ransom to many. Now, the question is; are we ready to make sacrifices for the sake of the gospel especially in the area of rendering services to God. A leader exists because of his followers; I confidently wrote this article because I know that those I am serving in this area of writing and reading must surely read it. For without the readers, the writer will be writing in vain and that makes the services of the writer incomplete.
Furthermore, King David in 2nd Samuel 24;24 said that he can never give God anything that cost him nothing. By explanation, he was not saying that you should bring all your acquired riches to the house of God, though it is an integral part of it. But what David is making us to understand is that God requires a qualitative and sacrificial service from us and not seeking to be served when we have refused to serve in the first place.
What do we say about Abraham? The man of faith and also a friend of Jesus who in his service to God offered his only son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. Please confirm this in Gen. 22:9-15. But God, having seen his faith, intercepted him at the last minute and proffered a solution by providing a ram with which Abraham finally used as a sacrifice to God. Abraham's sacrifice portrays a quality offering and service to God. He never cared for the reward unlike the people of our time, rather he put in, his best in the course of service. As you all know, he was mightily rewarded. The kind of reward that will last for ages.
The Lord is making a general call, especially to those of us who really want to be heads to first of all serve Him in Spirit and in truth. He, the Lord is searching for those who must serve Him selflessly, those who must empty themselves so as to serve Him without reservation. What brings greatness is the ability to serve.
In your desire to serve, what is your motive? Do you go for the reward first before rendering the required service? The answer should be capital "No". Though my answer may not augour well with yours, but one thing I want to state clearly is that genuine service pays well, though it may tarry for a while. Proverb 16:1-2 says; "You may think everything you do is right but the Lord judges your motive".
Also, let it be noted that those who go for the reward first often render inaccurate, ineffective and ingenuine services to God and humanity, yet they still expect genuine recompense from God. It is an obvious fact that some people even go as far as stealing and doing all kinds of dubious things in the course of serving. We are called to put an end to racial segregation in our desire to serve. The idea of the whites desiring the blacks to remain perpetual slaves under their custody must stop. Also, wealthy people expecting the poor ones to remain perpetually poor, so as to remain under their services is a high mark of greed and wickedness. What about the king and his cabinet chiefs? The love of serving must exist among them so as to gain cordial relationship and peaceful co-existence. Our God is not a partial God. He judges us according to the goals we have attained in life and not by riches or races.
May God help us in our desire to serve Him better as faithful servants and may the blessings that are connected to service never elude us in Jesus name -Amen. Thanks and God bless, I love you all.
Chukwuchebem Samuel is from St. Mary's Catholic Parish, Suleja, Abuja.