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A Servant’s Heart
Mark 9:30-37

I love a parade! As a high school band student I played the bass drum. The preparation, practices, and formation drills led up to the day of the American Royal Parade in Kansas City. Once on the bus we laughed, talked and made lots of noise as teenagers. However, when we got to our spot on the parade route our band teacher, A.T. Estes, made sure we were ready to march. Our spats were white, hats on straight, band uniforms clean, instruments tuned and we were in straight lines ready to take off when the drum major gave the signal.

The job of the drum major was to be out front and set the pace. They seemed to get all the attention and the band members were just another black uniform in the row. After all, the drum major usually wore white, had a tall hat with a plume, carried a whistle to tell us when to move and carried a bright gold/silver baton to tell us when to strike up the band. It appeared like an easy glamorous job.

The truth is the drum major’s job was anything but easy. He/she had to work extra hard to learn the steps, keeping the pace, know the music by heart and lead the band. When one of our rows was out of step (and with our band that wasn’t unusual) the drum major had to leave the front and get us back into formation.

In this scripture it appears that the disciples all wanted to be the drum major. They saw the job as glamorous and each of them wanted to be the “greatest” in the band. By the time they arrived in Capernaum it had become obvious to the band director, Jesus, that he would have to help them understand that being a drum major isn’t all glamorous . . . in fact it would take hard work wrapped in a servant’s heart.

A Servant’s Heart begins in the Service of Humanity. (v. 30-32)

We are called to be the salt and light to a bland, dark society desperately in need of help. If we are to serve the people of this world there are three ideas that Charles Swindoll describes as servants of humanity.

1. “I am different.” Christ makes the difference between what we look like and the world we live in now. We cannot serve humanity if we get sucked into prevailing culture and conform to society’s expectations.

2. “I am responsible.” Christ makes the difference between whether we live in isolation or integration. Our job is to be in the world making a difference, but not of the world’s evil influence.

3. “I am influential.” Swindoll writes, “Let’s not kid ourselves. The very fact that we belong to Christ — -that we don’t adapt to the system, that we march to a different drumbeat — -gives us an influence in this society of ours. We are influencing others in our every behavior, be it good or bad. Even when we aren’t trying, out comes the salt and on comes the light.”1

Take a moment and reflect to whom you are trying to be salt and light in this world? Is there anybody that you are influencing for Jesus? Have you curled up and refused to make a difference because it may take work? Can people see a difference in your life versus theirs?

A Servant with Love at the Core. (v. 33-35)

The twelve lost sight of what service to people was all about love! They saw it as one-up-manship and that was not Christ’s concept. Love was to be their individual and corporal work. Their job as servants was to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, call on the sick, visit the imprisoned, and love unselfishly.

That is still the role of the servant today!

A Servant’s Heart ends in Humility. (v. 36-37).

God is looking for band members who realize they aren’t going to be drum majors. Contributing to the good of the band is top priority! That comes by surrendering life to the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

Patrick Morley wrote: “It is not that the Holy Spirit empowers a person to become more dynamic, eloquent, and persuasive — though all these may possibly come. Rather, it is that the Holy Spirit helps you to become nothing to yourself, you ‘become less.’ Not servile, but a servant . . . Don’t ask the Holy Spirit to increase your skill; ask Him to increase Christ.” Then Morley adds, “The servant no longer wants to become a great man of God; he wants to become less. His love for the Lord Jesus becomes such an intense fire that he abandons all desire to be liked, to do a good job, to have a winning way, to be great man of God. He loses interest in who holds first place. He stakes out his claim on last place. His highest aim becomes for Christ to increase, for himself to decrease.”2

Our prayer ought to start with a confession that too often we have the desire to be first no matter who we step on to get to the goal. We need to acknowledge that our ways have been selfish and that today we want to give up our selfish ambitions. Call out to God to fill you with His Holy pursuit to greatness. Ask God to help you to no longer be confused between his will and your will. Have a childlike faith in the God of higher goals. Let God know that your highest aim is to be like Jesus!


Sermon brief provided by: Derl Keefer, Adult Development Ministries Coordinator in the Sunday School Department, Nazarene World Headquarters, Kansas City, MO

1. Charles Swindoll, Day by Day (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000), 326.
2. Patrick Morley, Walking with Christ in the Details of Life (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), 128

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