Grace + Power = Servanthood

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.

Ephesians 3:

Like millions of people throughout the world, I became a devoted fan of Downton Abbey. This PBS drama tells the story of an aristocratic British family in the first decades of the twentieth century. Yet, it focuses as much on the lives and relationships of the Abbey's servants as it does on the lords and ladies.

Though Downton Abbey is fiction, the program's creator, Julian Fellowes has sought to present a realistic picture of abbey life. We see, among other things, that the lives of Downton's servants are difficult. Yes, there are moments of joy and celebration. But, for the most part, servants work very hard for relatively little reward.

Servanthood was no easier in the first century A.D. than it was in the early 1900s. To be a servant was to be someone of low status, low income, and high work demands. Yet, when Paul describes his apostolic work in Ephesians 3:7, he refers to himself as "a servant of this gospel," that is, of the good news that the Gentiles have been brought together with Jews to form a single people of God.

Notice also the source of Paul's servanthood: "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power" (3:7). Surprising, isn't it? In this verse, Paul sees his servanthood not as a response to God's lordship or as obedience to God's command. Rather, God has graciously given him the role of servant. For Paul, servanthood is a gift and an expression of power.

You and I might not be literal servants, but, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are servants of God. Let us serve our Lord, not just in our obviously religious duties, but also in every facet of life! Our servanthood is a gift, and we are empowered to serve by God's own power. He enables us to do what we could never do by ourselves.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you think about your life, where are you called to be a servant? How do you express your servanthood? How might you think differently about your servanthood if you saw it as result of God's grace? How do you need God's power for your servanthood today?

PRAYER: Thank you, dear Lord, for giving me the gift of serving you and others. May I embrace my servanthood as an expression of your grace in my life. Help me, by your power, to serve well today. May I serve those you bring into my life at work, in the grocery store, on the athletic field, at home, at church, and wherever I find myself this week. Help me, by your power, to serve faithfully and effectively. To you be all the glory! Amen.

P.S. from Mark: The High Calling has been publishing content about servant leadership for over a decade. Click on the links to read some of our recent articles about servant leadership or to watch videos about servant leadership.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.