Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love. After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked,” Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and you are right because it is true. And since I, the Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than his master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things- now do them! That is the path to blessing.”
– John 13:1,12-17 (NLT)
This passage of scripture has had a tremendous impact on my life and my fathering. The insights here, the way of life that Jesus was teaching these men is astounding and completely counter-culture.
Jesus was showing the disciples the full extent of his love for them! Meaning, that there was nothing he would not stoop to do to serve them, to serve those he loved. The servant-hood of Jesus Christ, the Master and Creator of the Universe, the Lord God of all, deserving of all our adoration, servitude, and worship, literally bending down to take off the filthy sandals of one of his disciples, one of his children, and with his own hands washing the dirt, grime and filth off of their feet is extremely compelling, amazing and shocking. We cannot imagine Jeff Bezos, CEO, and founder of Amazon, crawling under our car to help change our oil, laying on a piece of cardboard, on our cracked garage floor, under, for example, my old Honda Civic. Oh, we may picture men like him, as a way to enhance their brand, their image, dressed up in pristine Carhartt work clothes going out to hand out hamburgers or rake a lawn for a nice photo op. But we cannot imagine this being their way of life. In the way they serve their children and their spouse. They pay other people to watch their kids, buy their stuff, mow their lawn, clean their house, etc.
Notice Jesus’s words, “I left you an example, do as I have done, you know these things, now do them-that is the path to blessing!”
Let these words really sink in. Jesus is deliberately setting us an example to follow. He is giving us a way of life concerning those we love, a pattern to follow. He is also telling us this (servant-hood) is the path to blessing!! DO WHAT I DO, COPY MY PATTERN OF ATTITUDE, BEHAVIOR, AND ACTIONS. “Imitate me, says Jesus!
This simple but profound example of Jesus has been my pattern and way of life regarding loving and raising my children and loving my wife as her husband.
Though I may be the head of our household, and the father of my children whom they are to obey and respect, I am their servant. I see myself as their servant, and I acted in ways to serve them, to seek their good. Nothing was beneath my dignity. This is still my attitude and heart towards them today even though they are all adults with their own families.
In working at my job/jobs to provide for them, I was serving them. I was striving to faithfully provide as best I could for the things they needed. Though I could not provide all the luxuries of life that others had, though I could not and did not provide all the nice things that many others around me had, I did faithfully provide a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Often working 60-80 hours a week. Many places we lived were poor by this world’s standards, but my standards came from God and the Bible, not this world, and the TV. Many cars I transported them in were old and used, but they safely allowed me to get them where we needed to go, to serve my family well. They may have been old and used, but as a servant, I always did my best to make sure they were in safe working order, and would not endanger my family. Sometimes the only place I could afford to buy replacement tires was the salvage yard. But they were better than the tires that were currently on the car.
In my teaching and my instructing of them, I sought to serve their best long term interests as a precious child of mine. I can change diapers with the best of them and did many times. I can give baths or wash hair, I can feed them a bottle, or get them some food. I helped clean their rooms, I vacuumed their floors, I emptied their trash, I cleaned the toilets and still do. I wiped their runny noses. Many times I put them to bed often laying next to them, telling them a story, or singing them a song. The only thing I did not do was clean up vomit! It made me gag. I tried, but it made me gag.
I would take them grocery shopping with me, teaming up to get everything on mom’s list, put stuff away, fold laundry, wash clothes, help them with karate. There was nothing that I did not genuinely attempt to serve them in. I am not saying that I was the only one who did these things. Often my wife did them as well with the children helping her or me.
I sought to serve them in our relationship by showing love, attention, patience, a listening ear, and sought to give them the tender time each child needed. If they needed to be held, hugged, or reassured. If they needed a word of encouragement or some loving correction. If they needed help understanding something difficult. If they needed extra time I would take the time to meet them where they were at. Always my first inclination was how can I serve them? I saw myself as my children’s servant.
For me, this was one of the primary, revolutionary, and significant ways that my newfound commitment to Jesus Christ in 1975 and my fresh reading and understanding of the Bible impacted me in a way my early exposure to Christianity never did.
“The greatest among you will be your servant”, Jesus said.
So I learned to ask, what does my family need from me right now? What does my wife need from me right now? What does my child need from me right now?
I realized that in following Jesus’s example, I would be able to show my children and my wife the fullest extent of my love in a way they would genuinely feel loved, cared for and cared about.
This is the great impact of serving them in all things, in any way that I could. This also directly leads to a blessed, fortunate, enjoyable family life, as Jesus promised.
If you want to leave a deep lasting impression of love and the imprint of Christ, begin today to excel in your servanthood towards your family. This will help assure that they feel your love and results in great blessing for you and your whole family.