But whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave. Matthew 20:26-27
The Old Testament uses several Hebrew terms that we translate as “servant,” each one presenting a slightly different picture of the heart of a servant:
- Ebed – A love-slave or servant. This term describes someone who is at the complete disposal of another (Deuteronomy 15:12-18). Likewise, leaders must be at the disposal of the Lord and their people.
- Abad – One who gives up personal rights in order to work in the fields or tabernacle (Numbers 18:7, 23). In a similar way, leaders must sacrifice their rights and stay surrendered to the cause.
- Sakyir – A hired servant who works for pay, by day or by year (Leviticus 25:39-42). A leader must avoid the perspective of a “paid professional” and flee when times get hard.
- Sharath – Someone who will perform menial tasks to accomplish an overall goal (Exodus 28:35-43). Leaders must serve the mission.
Leaders must never forget that God calls them to serve. If our Lord could wash His disciples’ feet as a “sharath”, then how could we frown at becoming an “ebed”?