Opposite Life – Master vs. Servant

In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked.
The Lord said, “Go up.”
David asked, “Where shall I go?”
“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.
So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah.
When David was told that it was the men from Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to them to say to them, “The Lord bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the people of Judah have anointed me king over them.”

  • 2 Samuel 2:1-7

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

  • Mark 9:35

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

  • Romans 14:4

“I believe God predestined every one of us with an amazing purpose and destiny to fulfill during our lifetimes. Sometimes we can feel guilty for wanting to do and be something great, but we need to understand that it is not arrogant to know who you are in Christ. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. It’s our responsibility.
“When we know how truly great we are in Christ, allowing the process of greatness to take place in our lives becomes much easier. But before this greatness can be revealed, there is usually a season of serving someone or something that helps develop our character. And then, when we experience the greatness God has for us, instead of being crushed under the weight of that greatness, our character has been built to sustain it.
“Many people in the current generation seem to want to be great for no reason except fame itself. And they want it now. They are becoming a generation that has no time for the process of refining and serving, because that is just boring. But Jesus said that in order to become great we must be servants. In other words, He was saying we must first lay down our own agendas and serve, allowing the process to bring true greatness out of us. He’s after His glory reflected in our lives, not shallow fame. The greatness given to you is not actually about you; the greatness inside of you is about other people. And servanthood is the pathway to true greatness. …
“Are you in a situation right now that looks opposite to the direction you thought God was leading you in? Ask God how you can best serve with excellence wherever He has you now, and allow Him to refine you from the inside out. Repent of any disappointment and choose to serve as unto God. Let go of thinking your season of serving should be over, because a true master will always be a servant.”

  • Alex Seeley, The Opposite Life

As for the Scriptures, David first became king of Judah.  His mode of operation showed that he went to God for his direction.  He humbly served as king, giving all honor to King Saul, even though Saul tried to kill him.  In Mark, we see that to be the master, we must serve all.  And we could expand on the Romans quote.  We cannot judge someone else’s servant or the master.  We must focus on glorifying God in all things.

Alex Seeley started down a path that drew concern within me.  Some people think they have God wrapped around their finger, but they do not know him at all.  They can enter a church and simply try to take over because they are “great.”  Even some people who have accepted Jesus as their Savior think that their greatest spiritual gift is leadership.  They might have monetary influence or charismatic (charisma rather than the Christian concept of charismatic) influence or they are simply bossy or they might have been a bully before being saved and they are so used to people doing what they suggest that they think that they are exhibiting great leadership but people are really afraid of them.

But let us delve into the context of Alex Seeley’s opposite because both ends of the spectrum are worthy concepts.

I have met people that were natural born leaders, but they would not take the lead because they knew Jesus’ words about serving instead of leading.  For some people, their lot in life is to serve.  As Alex Seeley says in her closing challenge, look at where you are and how you can serve God and glorify God where you are.

But I have seen people go on one or two mission trips and think they have completed their servanthood.  Someone else appreciates their service and makes them a church leader and then the “servant” turns into a tyrant.  How can a church leader become tyrannical?  Here is one of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes.

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  • C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock

But back to Alex Seeley’s good concept.  We have touched on those who do not consider themselves leaders, but they have leadership qualities.  We have touched on the reverse: the leader who does not really know how to lead and has no spiritual gift of leadership.

I had a lot of training and college courses before the U. S. Army pinned a gold bar on my shoulder and sent me out to lead men.  Sorry, women were allowed to serve, but not in combat units when I was commissioned.  The Corps of Engineers is considered a combat branch, and I served with female officers, a couple, but they had supportive roles.  The two that I knew had vastly different assignments.  One was at the brigade headquarters level in an administrative position, but the other was a platoon leader, of the Alpha company ten-ton dump trucks.  When someone else had a lot of dirt or rock that needed hauling, they called her.  Thus, neither of these ladies would have been near any shooting during a war, although the platoon leader might have gotten close to the action if we had been at war at the time.  I know, a long explanation as to why I said, “a leader of men.”

I have been the chairman of the board of deacons for a church.  I have served as an elder, even chairman of a committee or a team leader.  I work great in supportive, servant roles.  I work great in administrative roles where I lead up to hundreds of people.  But I never have considered myself a “take charge” guy.  I kind of backed into the military thing.  Hey, I could never stay in step when we marched.  So, how could I lead?!

But if God had me take that detour in the military to develop certain skills…  I stand at the ready.

But God has me where I am now.  I not only feel wonderful in my supportive roles and yearn to do more and more of those servant things.  I’ll let the leader take the screaming and yelling from others due to not liking this decision or that decision.

Is that what Alex Seeley calls greatness?  Maybe she thinks that I should “take charge.”  But does God think that?  I have seen so many people go wrong by taking charge when they neither had the skills nor the direction by the Holy Spirit to do so.  We should never think that our servant days are over.

I met a major in the Army.  He was the executive officer (XO) of the battalion, but I will get back to him.  The other major was a tyrant, the operations officer (S3 – for you military types).  Everyone was afraid of the S3 and all who directly worked for him.  The S3 had a motto that there was no such thing as a problem, only a challenge.  Back to the XO.  Just before the end of a fiscal year (back when I was a platoon leader, the company XO, and the full-time acting company commander – all at the same time due to people assigned to remote sites and a commander who wanted to have the title of commander as long as someone else did all the day-today details), some of my soldiers in my company went to a remote site without orders to receive per diem.  With a new fiscal year, it was “impossible” to pay those men their extra money.  Since I was in charge, by all three means mentioned above, I had to see the XO.  A sign on his door said, “At the other end of the hall, there are no problems.  At this end of the hall, we fix problems.”

I entered his office and he told me how careless I had been, how I would be responsible for all the missed per diem pay for about fifteen people, and this was a terrible thing that would never happen again.  He also suggested that I trusted a clerk who lied to me.  In other words, he already knew how it happened, but being responsible, I had to make it right.  I had trusted when their should have been someone checking the work.  He never yelled as the S3 always did.  He kept a slight smile on his face the entire time.  He was in the mode of an instructor.

As I walked the block back to my office, I vowed I would take so much of my pay until every soldier in my care was paid.  As I approached our barracks, one of my sergeants yelled out the window, “Phone call for you, Sir.”  I ran into the building.  It was the major, laughing, and telling me to not worry about it.  He had already fixed the problem, just like the sign on his door said.

Would I have been successful under either of these officers during a time of crisis?  Probably, but there was one that I would have done anything for and the other would have caused me to look over my shoulder, wondering when he would yell that something was not done right.

There are many different styles when it comes to leadership and being the master, but few of those styles glorify God in the process.

Rather than seeking leadership for leadership’s sake, let us strive to glorify God, and if leadership is required, we should be prepared to do so.

Lord, guide me.  Help me find where I can make the most impact within my ability for Your kingdom.  May I always glorify You, and may what I do point other people in Your direction.  Thank You, Lord, for giving me the opportunity to serve You, whether it be as a master or a servant.  Amen

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Poetry Goddess June 19, 2022 — 3:38 pm

    Beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Seems like in the Marines too the S3 guy is a can-do dude you shouldn’t mess with! Good point how servant leadership and attitude isn’t something we graduate from; good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

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