How to serve the people God puts in your care

Alane Zlotnicki

We’ve all been told by a child or teenager, “You’re not the boss of me!” But to some extent, we are all the boss of someone at some point in our lives. 

Whether it’s our children, teammates, employees, or server at a restaurant, we will experience having authority over someone else. And if we follow Jesus, we have the opportunity, the privilege, and the responsibility to represent Him to them.

In John 13:1-20, Jesus modeled godly leadership to His disciples when He washed their feet, a chore traditionally reserved for the lowest servant. It would be similar to Apple CEO Tim Cook scrubbing toilets at the Apple offices. Jesus was demonstrating what He meant when He said, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant to all” (Mark 9:35). 

Footwashing is no longer standard practice, but serving those under our care never goes out of style. So how do we become “last of all and servant to all” of those under our authority?

Four Ways to Serve Those Under Your Care

1. Invest in your employees’ growth.   

When you hire someone, presumably you do so because they have the skills and talents you need to run your business. So let them do what God has equipped them to do. Fight the urge to micromanage, and think of yourself more like a coach — calling out their potential and helping them grow in their gifting.

Proverbs 16:10-20 in “The Message” says, “A good leader motivates, doesn't mislead, doesn't exploit...Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives; they're like spring rain and sunshine.” 

As long as the work is being done correctly, letting people use their God-given talents without criticism shows you respect them as a person as well as a professional, and reflects Jesus in you much more clearly. 

2. Show genuine interest in your kids’ lives. 

Philippians 2:4-7 reminds us to look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” 

Parenting is one of the most practical ways we experience what it’s like to put our own interests aside to serve another. Every diaper change, late-night feeding, and pre-nap rocking requires a mom or dad to take the form of a servant.  

As kids grow, they rely on us less for physical needs and more for emotional needs. Children are more likely to do what we tell them if they feel valued and respected. That happens when we show genuine interest in them and their feelings.

3. Help your teammates — even if it’s not your job.  

Galatians 5:14 says the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s actually seven words, but the point is we please God when we act unselfishly. 

Whether you serve on a team at church, in the community, or at work, love your teammates as yourself by taking a genuine interest in their lives, staying in touch during the week, and praying for them regularly. If a member of your team needs help, provide it cheerfully. 

Do what you would want someone to do for you, even if it means going beyond what’s required of you in your role. 

4. Be generous to your servers.  

You know the saying, “The customer is always right”? Even if only for the length of time it takes to order a latte, you are in charge every time you step in a coffee shop, restaurant, or service industry.

In Galatians 5:13, we are reminded, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” We have been given everything — an identity, an inheritance, an eternal glory — so that we can share those gifts with others. Christians should be most polite, patient, and generous customers a server meets all day. If we aren’t, why would the people waiting on us want to learn more about Jesus?

Jesus served His disciples to draw them closer to Himself and to set an example for us to follow. If He could humble Himself, we certainly should, as well.

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