Your Obedient Servant

What does it mean to serve and how can we as Christians follow the example Christ set when it comes to service?

a painting showing one man washing the hands of the others

As a boy I remember being taught to sign off formal letters this way and I always made me think whoever the recipient is they must be pretty important. Not only am I signing off as their servant but an obedient one too!
Of course nowadays the most formal you’ll get from me is “kind regards”. How things have changed.
It does make you think though, has the concept of service changed?


Nowadays we serve expecting reward or recognition. A medal, an honour or speech or something. My youngest gives me a strange look of I suggest he wash the car for the pure pleasure of it and not pocket money.

What is service meant to look like?

I’m pretty handy with most things and often get asked to help out with DIY tasks or fixing a techie problem. Most times I’m happy to help because I like helping people and solving problems but there are times when it’s hard. I’m tired, I’ve overstretched myself and taken on more than I can handle, or it’s taking me away from something else I’d rather be doing.

Do you feel like that sometimes?

A neighbour recently asked if he could borrow a tool to fix something. I sensed what he really wanted was for me to help him fix it as he’d previously asked for the same tool for the same job. He probably felt awkward asking for more than the tool. Tired old me didn’t feel like volunteering either. You know the saying “no good deed goes unpunished”?
After a conversation where I could see he really did need my help I agreed a date to help him fix the broken table (that’s what the problem was).

On the day, I saw the phone rang and I watched the caller display show his number with that slight feeling of dread. I was worn out, tired and didn’t feel like getting out of bed to go and sort this table out.

Eventually, I wrenched myself from the bed and joined him outside where the table was. The legs were wobbly and needed tightening. As I set about fixing the table we had a nice chat about life, family and the economy. Turns out the handyman who helped him fix the table previously used the wrong screws so I was able to do a better job than he expected. He’d become so frustrated he said, that he was ready to throw what was a lovely butcher’s block table away. Fixing it was like giving it new life.

When the job was done I could see what a load had been lifted from his shoulders. “Clement,” he said “honestly, you don’t know what this has done for me.” He’s not wrong. I don’t. But God does.

That’s when I realised that service isn’t necessarily doing something you like doing when you want to do it. It’s an act of obedience to God and often not easy. God blessed us with gifts so we can bless others. These gifts, skills, call it what you will, are for us to serve in God’s kingdom. Obediently. They are not for us to use as we will and boast about them.

Jesus gave us that example when he washed his disciples feet. Philippians 2:7-8 also states

“rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!”

Nowhere did it say he hopped, skipped and jumped his way to an obedient death. It would have been a real struggle.
It may feel difficult at first to be that obedient person and serve but I promise you, the rewards are great. If not for you but for the person receiving.

So now I know how important those words are.


Your obedient servant.

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