I happen to work for a giant corporation. You might even venture to call it a conglomerate with as much as they have been buying up as of late. My job at this corporation is just that of a lowly Shift Lead. What this means is that when my manager is not in the store I basically am the acting manager (although for certain legal reasons in California we won’t use that word). This gives me the power to do what I believe to be right for the company and the store partners while also making sure I can’t really mess anything up since I am only acting as a manager and truly am only the guy with the key to lock the door at the end of the day.
Now, I will admit that my sinful nature and general personality tend to lean towards lording any authority I might have over my fellow partners. And anyone who worked with me four or fives years ago would certainly agree that I can do that very well. It wasn’t until I once again realized that true power and beauty of the Gospel of Christ that I learned how to work the way God meant for us to work. For in the world, lording power over people is a very natural thing. No one I have ever met who is not a Christian doesn’t use the power to their advantage even if it is in the nicest way possible. No, only believers tend to understand how to truly work and even we fail more times than not.
One of the most beautiful and offensive parts of the Gospel is that Jesus came to serve us. In our day and age this is a concept that is so far away from our minds that it devastates us when we learn that the way to be a leader like Jesus is to be a servant. Our Savior set the example for us when he spent his life and ministry serving others. He didn’t require them to serve him. No, instead he took off his garments and washed their feet. He feed the 5000 and healed the sick. He even laid it out very bluntly what it is to be his followers. Jesus says to them:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be the great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Jesus did not come to be served but instead to serve! This is astonishing for us today, we spend our whole life from the moment we enter the world to the day we die being told that we must get power, we must get wealth. Jesus in just a span of minutes shows that neither of these things matter.
So what? How does this effect me? Well, as a shift lead it is my responsiblity to make sure that everything in my store gets down to make us profitable, as long as it is my shift to run. As of late I have been thinking about what my Savior would call me to. He wants me to be like him in all the I do which means that I am called to be a servant-leader in my workplace. This is especially important since I am a team/shift leader. Instead of using the authority given to me by my boss to delegate to everyone else on the floor I am to come along side them and lead by serving. Show them what a difference exists between someone who lords power over them and someone who “washes their feet”.
For those who read this and have worked in retail you will understand how difficult this can be. When you work both with a younger crowd of people and the general public keeping sight of servant-leadership can be extremely hard. We tend to think of servant-leadership as something we do at church or our pastors do when ministering to us. We don’t tend to think of servant-leadership as cleaning the dirty bathroom or taking care of the rude customer. We don’t tend to imagine that Jesus meant for us to wipe up rotten milk when we could delegate to someone else to do it. But my encouragement is to remember that He washed the feet of his disciples. He didn’t tell Peter or John to do it. He got up after sharing a meal with them and washed their dirty, smelly, disgusting feet.
So my challenge today is this: If you work in an environment where you don’t think about being a servant-leader, whether it be retail or an office building, try it out. Think about how you might serve your coworkers and therefore open the door to the gospel for some who never have heard it. Instead of fighting to be the best in the eyes of your boss, realize that you work for someone else. Jesus is the true owner and He is the one who we should work for. Let us be servant-leaders, let us lead a revolution of “feet washers” to share the gospel with others, and as always…
Let us be genuine.