servant:1. a person working in the service of another 2. one who expresses submission, recognizance, or debt to another: your obedient servant. 3. one who serves another
How does a person learn to become a servant? It’s simple he or she begins to serve.
I remember being in Scotland, just arrived at our YWAM base. I had a BTH degree. I was expecting much and anxious to travel and to share the good news.
One day during my Disciple Training School I was pushing a wheel barrel after spending many hours digging potatoes in a cold damp black soiled field to help feed our community of believers.
I began to think and ponder, “What am I doing? I have a degree in theology. Here I am in a rainy muddy field digging potatoes, not just potatoes, but cold, dirty stinky potatoes. This is crazy. I came here to change my world not to dig potatoes.”
I remember I was aggravated and my heart was beginning to burn with frustration. As my frustration grew I finally threw the wheel barrel down, spilling the potatoes on the ground. Looking up at the rain filled sky I shouted, “God I have a BTH degree in Theology, I’m a graduate. What am I doing in this stinking field? What are you doing with me? I came here to reach a nation.”
As soon as the words left my mouth I heard a friendly familiar inner impression, “I’m shaking your head knowledge into heart knowledge.” Stunned, I stood still. I did not move. In that instant I understood. Hearing His voice I was humbled. So, I bent down picked up the potatoes put them back into the wheel barrel and sheepishly took them to the shed. I returned to my muddy field. I kept digging potatoes. However, I was changed. I served with a much better attitude.
A year went by and I continued to serve, to do what needed doing. One day I heard another impression. “You’ve learned how to begin to serve, now I’m going to propel you forward into what I’ve call you to do.”
Lesson relearned re-do.
I arrived back to the USA after 18 years of proven ministry. Guess what? I had to start all over. No one knew me. Know one knew what I had accomplished, the people I’d touched, the messages I had spoken, nor the price my family had paid.
I had to learn to dig potatoes all over again in a different field for 18 months. During my 18 months I was kicking against the process. I was missing the blessing. I was learning or not learning to manage, mainly working in administration. I was serving a pastor of a distressed church. He was stressed and I was stressed. We had words and I had attitude. It stunk. Not all the time, but it stunk. It was routed in pride. I’m now ashamed of my attitude, my words and my behavior toward a friend. I have apologized for my arrogance and pride. At the time I was wanting out of my situation and missed many valuable lessons that were designed to equip me for my future.
A way out.
A friend visited our city to help us with a major outreach event. During our time together he asked me to help him with his world-wide ministry. He wanted me to organize his travel, set up contracts, manage his time at conferences and at the church. I was also, mandated to help keep him alive as we traveled from A to B and to get us there with all the needed materials.
In that moment of invitation I realized I did not learn what I was sent there to learn. I had been resisting, not learning and now understood what the season had been all about. It was God’s way to train me, humble me and prepare me for my future which needed a totally different skill set. I was going to have to manage, plan, administrate a lot.
I agreed to the new job. The next day I quickly ran out to the nearest bookstore and purchased a book, Managing for Dummies. I was the Dummie. I read the book from cover to cover and carried the it to my next post.
I moved on to Cincinnati to travel as a man-servant, Kato, booking flights, listening, being a friend, carrying bags. Digging potatoes. I’m not sure I learned all I needed to learn during that period but I did begin to serve, not perfectly but better.
I remember being in New Zealand. I had to set up projectors, encourage people, sell books and was pretty worn out. One day I was pulling the equipment around in a field totally discouraged and ready to quit. That night my friend spoke to a couple thousand people. He was on form. The message was amazingly powerful. Loren Cunningham of YWAM happened to be in the audience. He was moved by the message. He went on the stage and embraced my friend. He then encouraged the crowd to become doers, servants and to begin to reach out to their world through acts of service. I once again was humbled. I adjusted my attitude and began to serve again.
I’m digging potatoes with a great team of fellow potato diggers.
Years later, I’m serving in Dayton. Part of my job is to plan fun, upbeat, outreach endeavors and events to help the people focus outward. However, I’ve had to adjust my attitude much, and continue to learn how to serve with a good heart and a good attitude.
I’ve discovered digging potatoes is a way of life. Serving is actually death. Death to self for a greater purpose. It never ever stops. It’s a process. Serving others is the way of the process that works humility, grace and love into my heart. It continues to be challenging, mainly when I begin to think I’m a big deal.
Last week, I had a blast cleaning a freezer that had a pool of stinking biological unsafe putrid rotted meat product floating on top of wet bread crumbs.
Why? One of our key ministry partners told me he was going to clean the freezer. I thought. “Nope. He’s served his time.” It was actually kind of fun, kinda. The freezer was well cleaned. I was a digging potatoes for a great purpose, the love for my friend, for all the people who would later receive frozen food and for my King.
Guess what I’ve discovered? Digging potatoes is the way toward becoming a servant…
After serving, day by day, week by week, month by month and year after year I think I’ve learned (or am learning) an important lesson…
It’s how you serve that really matters, the heart attitude, learning to serve with a willing heart that is full of genuine love and joy. My fellow potato diggers and I often find ourselves in situations where our attitude is all important. It’s most important during the times we serve the less served in the rain, snow, wind and heat as we touch our city with God’s love.
Genuine serving happens when we have the realization that we, no, I am no big deal. Those who know they are no big deals can become truly surrendered servants who have learned they can do anything, small or great for the glory of God and to the honor of His name. Serving helps us to understand our identity is not tied to what we do, but tied into Whose we are, sons and daughters.
Jesus washed the disciples feet. How? He knew Whose he was, who He was, and what He came to do.
Mark 10:45 NLT
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
NIV. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,
NLT. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
EVS. rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,
NAS. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,
KJV. With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
HCSB. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men,
ISV. Serve willingly, as if you were serving the Lord and not merely people,
How long does it take to become a surrendered servant? A moment in time, yes, but also it takes a life time. It’s a process. He is working in us conforming us into the likeness of His Servant Son.
Most probably you’ll find me somewhere digging potatoes.
It’s now who I am and what I do.
It’s how I’m learning to become like the Servant King who humbled Himself, came to earth, and reached out to save me… a dirty muddy potato.