You 'Gotta Serve Somebody
Once we understand who we are and who God is, humility is the necessary corollary. With humility comes service to God and to our fellow humans.
Paul writes that “in view of God’s mercy” we are to be “living sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1). In 1 Corinthians 6:20, he writes, “you are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” Our job is to devote every breath to God and his purposes.
One of my favorite verses is “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Our every action should be holy, i.e. set apart for God. Nothing remains for us to own. All becomes his.
But what does it mean practically to spend ourselves in service to God and our fellow humans? Do I have to work in a soup kitchen? Am I barred from worldly positions of power?
Not necessarily. What it does mean is that in whatever position we find ourselves, we should emulate Christ by serving God and others.
I’ve worked in politics for more than 30 years – in the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and presidential campaigns. I do it because I love justice. Politics -- at its best -- is the handmaiden of justice. Unfortunately, politics can also be about self-serving power and pomposity. I’ve seen the best and the worst. There’s no shortage of self-serving politicians.
I remember one Member of Congress who required his staff to meet him at the airport and hand him a manila folder with briefing papers inside it. Whether the briefing papers were consequential was beside the point -- the Congressman just wanted to look important to onlookers. He also wanted to be chauffeured to his car in the special congressional parking lot so he could look like a big shot. (He ended up in jail, I might add.)
But I’ve also known many politicians—of the Left and the Right—whose principal motivation is the pursuit of justice.
Politics has some perks, but not as many as most people think. The hours are long, the pay is less than the private sector. Public criticism can be intense and unfair. When I was a Special Assistant to the President in the White House, there were several media stories about me that made me look like a total scumbag. I've been labeled a "terrible person" by a prominent TV talk show host. I spent too many nights calling my kids to say goodnight from a deserted Capitol Rotunda. Some days politics feels like getting water up my nose. There's good reason many people would hate a career in politics.
What keeps me in the arena is the desire to restrain evil and promote the good. My work in politics is more than just a job. It’s a calling.
Politics requires sacrifice, and the reflexively cynical attitude towards those working in the political realm is often unfair. Our nation has many good and godly men and women who are laying down their lives to create a just political order. Many of these servant leaders live lives of humble service.
Service is an inward disposition of love and concern for others. It is centered in the motivation for our actions. The custodian cleaning the Oval Office may be serving himself, whereas the President may be serving others.
Humble service is not immediately apparent based on our social rank or stature. Whether we are genuinely serving others is only fully known by God, and as we come to grow in holiness, more clearly known by us.
The point is that we are all called to serve in all we do. In the words of Bob Dylan, “you gotta serve somebody.”