One spring break, my friend Alex and I decided to take a road trip to Nashville. On the way there, we stopped in a café in Asheville, NC for brunch. Both of us were student leaders at Liberty University responsible for mentoring a group of students on our halls. As we were swapping ideas and brainstorming what great leadership lessons we were going to teach next year, I happened to notice a tattoo on our waitress’s arm. Every time she reached out to serve us, hand us our food, or refill our drinks, it revealed the reference, “Mark 10:45” in a script face on the inside of her wrist.
Naturally, my curiosity got the best of me, so I googled it on my phone once she left. What I found was so ironically appropriate for the conversation we were already having:
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, ESV).
Now I don’t know anything about this waitress, but the implication of this verse struck me. I’m kinda bummed in retrospect I didn’t strike up a conversation about it, because I feel she would have had a lot to say on the matter.
Regardless, I thought it was a practical example of being a light and ambassador for the Gospel in an every day context. Through serving others, this waitress was meeting a need (food) that provided an avenue for conversation. Through serving others, she was able to demonstrate the love of Christ to people who may never set foot in a church. John Maxwell has often repeated the phrase, "Leadership is influence," and that's exactly what this waitress was doing. Through serving others, she could lead.
To make this illustration even more vivid, the only time you could really see the tattoo is when she opened her hands to give or receive something. There are not many contexts in which turning your palms upward is a position of power. It’s almost always a position of humility and service. In opening her hands to others, and ultimately, her hands to the Lord, she was making herself a servant.
Leading others to Jesus
We tend to make evangelism (telling others about Jesus) more difficult than it has to be. Look at what you already do in your day-to-day life: How can you serve the people around you? Use that opportunity open a door for a conversation. For this waitress, it was being good at her job. In being a good server, she could build relationships with the regulars who come in, or look for ways to serve her coworkers.
Leadership is really no different.
What’s the most important lesson I can teach the students under me? To love Jesus and love others. How do I do that? By being an example of what that looks like. The most powerful lessons I learned about being a leader were from watching great leaders in my life.
Jesus came not to be served, but to serve others. That was the example that Christ left his disciples. After Jesus humbled himself and washed his disciples feet, do you think they were more or less likely to serve others? Jesus told them whoever would be great among them must be a servant to all (Mark 10:43). If the Son of God set the example of service, how much more are we to follow that?
Invest in people that will invest in people. When you are in love with Jesus, you can’t help but look for ways to serve others and tell them about what you know.
In that regard, every Christ-follower is called to be a leader — that is, someone who leads others to Jesus.
This is true whether it’s telling someone about Jesus for the first time, or encouraging and reminding other Christians about the Gospel. The most practical way of doing that is not through apologetics or theological debates, but through serving. Both of those things are great tools, and very important for your growth, but nothing will create an opportunity like opening your hands, turning your palms up to someone, and revealing the mark of Christ in your life.
“Everyone has an opinion; be an example.” – Bob Goff
For the waitress in the story, it was her job to serve others. As Christians, we have the same responsibility.
In what ways can you serve someone today?
How can you use that opportunity to tell them about Jesus?