An often quoted motto of John Wesley is, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this motto over the past few days, and what it truly means. I believe that without ever using the word, Wesley is talking about being a servant. This concept of servanthood is a difficult one in today’s culture. Many seem guided by a different motto: “God helps those who helps themselves.”

This is not at all the model which Jesus gives us. In fact, Christ taught that to serve others was the path to greatness.

“So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:42-45

True Christian service never has as its goal the advancement of self, but rather the advancement of the Kingdom. Christ is set before us as a model for servanthood. Although He was with God the Father from all eternity, He came to serve a fallen, broken, and corrupt world by dying on a cross for our sins. He served so that his death would redeem us. In this a model not just for living as a servant, but also what the mindset of a Christian — of a servant — should be.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.”  Philippians 2:3-8

In light of this, Christian servanthood is less about action than it is about lifestyle. It is not captured in doing acts of service but rather in choosing to imitate Christ by being a servant to others. It might be accurate to say that while it is about striving to be selfless, its even more about thinking less of yourself.