Having a Servant Heart

By: Jill Briscoe

Jenny, the girl who led me to Christ, told me to wake up every morning and go out into a new day looking for people to bless.  I didn't know what she meant as I had been somewhat of a curse before my conversion!  "how do you 'be a blessing' instead of a curse?" I asked her.

"Just go out into each day, and every time you meet someone ask, 'What can I do for you?'" she answered. 

Now this was pretty radical for me as I was used to asking people, “What can you do for me?” not “What can I do for you?”  But I found out that it worked!  And that was the way I learned to be a blessing and cultivate a servant spirit.

One of the first times I asked the question was in a church I joined when I was a student teacher.  There was a sad-looking girl sitting in the pew in front of me.  One day I introduced myself to her, and after talking to her for a bit, I asked “the question.”

“What can I do for you?”  I inquired with a bright but somewhat false smile.

Immediately she brightened up and said, “Oh, do you really mean you want to do something for me?”

“Yes,” I answered, feeling a bit apprehensive at her eager response.

“Well,” she said, “I am my mother’s caregiver.  She is an invalid, and though I care for her, I have to work as well.  Could you come and do some housecleaning for us?  I never have time to do any of the extra things that need doing around the house.”

My heart sank.  I had never liked housecleaning.  I didn’t want to do my own, never mind hers!  I had expected her to say, “Will you come and read the Bible to my mother and tell her about the Lord?”  That would have been fine, but not this!

She didn’t seem to notice my apprehension as by now she was so excited and saying, “Tomorrow?  I’ll tell you how to get there, and I’ll leave you a list.”  And she was gone.

The next day I apprehensively approached the house.  What would she ask me to do?  I had thought a lot about the list she had promised me, and I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to go inside and read it.  The list was long, the lady was not particularly appreciative of my efforts, and I left feeling decidedly dejected.  I determined to have a word with Jenny as soon as possible and tell her what I thought about her great idea of asking “the question.”  I also decided to stay out of the girl’s way at church.

Jenny merely laughed when I told her the story, remarking that God would use the effort even if my spirit had been less than sweet!  Sure enough, the girl found me again, happily gave me another list, and said she would expect me every Tuesday from then on!

Struggling with the whole thing, I turned up the next Tuesday, and then the next and the next. One day, long after I had given up expecting it, someone thanked me.  It was the old lady’s brother.  “Why should a young lady like yourself make yourself a servant to strangers?” he asked me.

I told him, “Because I am a Christian and Jesus said we should be servants of all.”  I must admit I felt like a huge hypocrite.  But from then on, all sorts of relatives appeared when I was working through my list, and the Lord began a ministry through me that spilled out beyond the walls of the old lady’s room.

Then I understood that what was happening in me as the Spirit of God began creating a servant spirit, was just as important as what was happening through me–the witnessing to the family.  He was making me like Him.  It was a little time before I dared ask “the question” again!  But through the years I have never been out of work for the Lord by using that very simple question.

Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine and ministry.