At Your Service
“Who, me? Are you sure you’re asking the right person?” I feel embarrassed when I think of my response to an invitation to serve punch at a welcome coffee for the incoming commanding general’s wife. I know it sounds old school to write about serving punch at a formal gathering, but trust me—this was a big deal. Formal protocol was more the norm than it is today, and it was an honor to participate. I was brand new to this military wife gig and to describe myself as insecure is an understatement. What if I went to this formal function and spilled something, or forgot a military acronym, or made a complete fool of myself in any myriad of ways? I felt inadequate to serve.
To compare my fear of accidently baptizing a general’s wife with punch to John baptizing Jesus is certainly out of balance, but the emotion attached to feeling inadequate is universal. Jesus approached John to baptize him and John clearly felt inadequate to serve in that capacity. Yet, to baptize Jesus was part of the mission John was to fulfill. His was the task to introduce the Messiah to the world. He was inadequate, but in his service he was obedient. John dedicated himself to do God’s will by doing as Jesus asked, even as Jesus dedicated himself to do God’s will in leaving heaven to come to earth. The picture is one of obedient service: John served Jesus as Jesus committed himself to be a servant of all. Jesus invites us to participate in his mission of service.
We should feel inadequate to serve the way John and Jesus did, yet the call to be obedient requires that we allow Jesus to serve through us, and he is beyond adequate. Remember, the first trait God is looking for in someone to be used in service is not competence, but obedience. The self-declared obedient servant of God, the apostle Paul, revealed the secret of his competence when he said, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).