Why do we volunteer? Since part of my job is recruiting volunteers, it’s an important question, and one I don’t ask often enough. Yet as I sit thinking about different ways to reach out to our community and serve lunches throughout the week, one word popped out: serve. We volunteer to seek opportunities to serve others. The motivations behind our service may vary, so this week, we’ll focus on volunteering that offers the opportunity to love one another better.
As I pondered our desire to serve, I return to my original question: why?
The story of Jesus washing His disciples feet came to mind. The story is prefaced in John 13:1: “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
With a heart full of love and complete understanding of the power God gave Him (John 13:3), Jesus got up from the dinner table, wrapped a towel around his waist, and began to wash the disciples’ feet (v. 4-5). Jesus took an act that was usually done by a servant upon himself. With the understanding of Jesus as the Song of God, this servitude causes Simon Peter to stop and question: “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” concluding, “No, you shall never wash my feet.”
Peter seems afraid to allow Jesus the Messiah to wash his feet, because to do so would place the Lord Jesus below him in status. Yet, he quickly changes his mind as Jesus proclaims the necessity of allowing Jesus to serve him in order to be associated with Jesus. Wash my feet, my hands, my head, he resounds, eager to be a part with Jesus.
In John 13:12-17, Jesus challenges His disciples to move beyond titles of great stature, for even He has taken the position of service in washing their feet. Just as Jesus is able to wash His disciples feet, so His disciples are able to allow Him to do so. We get a picture of humility, for no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him (v.16).
Jesus goes on to promise blessings to those who do this. It’s a picture of service that comes from love. When we recognize that we are neither greater nor lesser than our spouse, our neighbor, or the stranger, we’re better able to love them.
When we serve others, we learn how to love better. It’s an opportunity to put aside personal perspectives and focus outward. In stepping away from ourselves, we gain new perspectives and understandings, which then allow us to listen and relate to others more effectively in the future.
In a world that seems to grow more and more “me” focused, this is just one reminder that the needs of other people matter in this world, and perhaps they matter more than our own wants.
Check back next week for the next reason in Why do we volunteer?
Originally posted on RochesterSA.org.