Foot washing ceremonies in Christian churches are common. We do this in celebration and commemoration of this real event that took place many years ago. It is an attempt to follow the teaching of Jesus and to serve others in humility. How many of you have let someone wash your feet? I find people do not want to have their feet washed. Is this cultural? It does not quite resonate with our modern lives. I think we find it more humbling to have our feet washed than to wash the feet of another.
12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.
16 “Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him.
John 13:12-16 (CSB)
We are all familiar with the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. Foot washing was a servile task. For Jesus to wash feet is to once again turn accepted norms upside down. He is demonstrating the heart of a servant and uses the experience as a teaching opportunity. Jesus is teaching the disciples about a new kind of leadership. He is revealing a teacher who does not exalt himself and insist on position. Service is the premise of leadership in the kingdom Jesus ushers in. This is difficult for us. We want to be exalted rather than humbled. We often serve because it is less humbling to do so than to receive service. Often, we seek leadership, not because we want to serve, but because we want to be in charge. We want things our way. Maybe I should confess that I want things my way. Often these leadership positions come with power, influence, and money. Jesus’ leadership style is void of power and money. It seeks to influence, not through rule, but through service.
What are you seeking? A new term we throw around is the term “influencer”. It describes the voice many have found through the internet and its various forms of social media. Many of you (us) are influencers in our community and church circles. Do you seek to influence through humility and service? This is the example Jesus set. What do you need to do to adjust your attitude, your emphasis, and your activities and become a servant leader? Today is a good day to make the necessary changes.