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Leading Today: Servant Leadership

By Stan Toler | 39th general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene. He resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

"I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him" (John 13:16).

The washing of the disciples' feet is one of the most tender scenes in Scripture. Almost everything of the Master's purpose and compassion is seen in these few verses.

The incident was close to Calvary. Hours and minutes are all He had left to teach His disciples the one thing they would need to be effective followers and effective leaders: a servant's heart.

Certainly there were other lessons. They were taught to pray. They were taught to be good administrators. They were taught to be good stewards of God's resources. They were taught about scriptural prophecy. They were taught about spiritual and secular priorities. However, this was a capstone teaching, and the dusty feet of the disciples were to reflect the walk of the Galilean.

Imagine the surprised look of the disciples as the Creator of the universe and Savior of the world laid aside the scepter of authority and picked up the towel of humility. Grace and mercy mingled with service. In one stirring ceremony, God's compassion and their mission were forever etched in their hearts.

These were the men who would turn the world upside down. They would be filled with the power of Pentecost and fearlessly defend God's Word in the face of heaven's enemies. They would encounter friends and foes. They would meet those with great needs and those who seemingly needed nothing, but they would know how to minister to all—with hearts full of humility and hands ready to serve.

Similar to the disciples, you and I will have opportunities to lead others by word and deed; and like the disciples, we will meet people with known and unknown needs. Thanks to a tender foot-washing ceremony, we forever will know how to react.

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