Moving From Self-Preservation to Servanthood

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With COVID-19 on the loose, we have all had to adapt to a new normal, including going to church online. Honestly, this season is giving me a whole new perspective on what it means to “not neglect meeting together,” as Hebrews 10:25 tells us to do. I’m so incredibly grateful for the technology that we currently have that we can do church from the safety of our own homes and we can encourage each other wherever we are.

A few weeks ago, my pastor said something in his online message that has stuck with me ever since. He admonished us to move from self-preservation to servanthood.

It’s natural for our bodies to go into self-preservation mode during this season. A virus is running rampant throughout the world and we don’t want to catch it. We take on a fight or flight instinct that is part of our bodies’ natural defense mechanisms. We see fear being spread on the news and social media every night, uncertainty is around every corner, and scarcity cropping up in unexpected areas.

Self-preservation is a natural response, but we can choose the supernatural path of servanthood.

I’m really grateful that Jesus’s life is recorded for us in the Bible. We can see how he followed God and served people perfectly as a man. He has shown us the way to live a perfect life of servanthood even when the circumstances are less than ideal.

John 13 details Jesus’s last meal with the disciples before he went to the cross. Let’s think about what Jesus might have been feeling during that time. He knew what was coming next: Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him. The disciples would become fearful and scatter, leaving Jesus completely alone. He would be falsely accused and called horrible names. He would be beaten and experience incredible physical anguish before finally dying on the cross.

And yet, despite all of these factors that could’ve easily and understandably caused a self-preservation response, Jesus chose servanthood. He brought the Kingdom of God to earth, displaying love and grace to men who would all betray him to some degree in the coming hours.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:3-5 (NIV)

I have so often thought of “servanthood” as something that you have to do when you’re physically with someone, but social distancing is forcing us to get creative. Staying indoors right now is an act of servanthood. Texting someone just to check on them is an immense kindness. Giving the little you have instead of hoarding more for yourself can make a difference in another person’s life. I believe there are little and big ways that we can practically and creatively serve another person today.

While the world leans into self-preservation mode, we can choose to serve others. Though times are scary and uncertainty is at an all-time high, we can choose to look a little more like Jesus today.

What does it mean to practically live a life of servanthood?

How can you serve someone else today?

To go Deeper: Read Functioning Isn’t the Same as Living,
Belief Determines Behavior


  1. Reblogged this on Work in Progress and commented:

    This “self-preservation to servanthood” mentality has been heavily on my mind this year. I’m so used to looking out for myself and my needs that self-preservation is a normal way of life for me. It tends to be my M.O.

    But I’ve been trying to filter my actions more and more through the question of “Is this action loving my neighbor?” It’s a simple question that can make all the difference in how we live. 

    As we close out the end of the year, when things don’t look like we wanted or expected them to, I believe that we can still choose the path of servanthood in a world obsessed with self-preservation.

    Can you become preoccupied with self-preservation?

    How can you practically adopt a posture of servanthood today?


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