How Well Do We Serve?

by Lauren Dungy August 15, 2018
“But Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.’” Matthew 20:25-26 (NLT)
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These wise words from Jesus remind me of the lessons my parents taught me. They were a great example of what it meant to live a life of service and helping others.

Growing up, our home was frequently filled with people. Almost every weekend, my parents would invite children from a nearby girls’ home to stay with us. These girls were treated no differently than if they were my sisters, as my parents warmly welcomed and included them in our everyday lives and activities.

Jesus’ statement in Matthew 20 came during a discussion He had with His disciples about leadership. They were asking how they could get promoted up the ladder of authority in His organization. In fact, two of the disciples, James and John, asked for the positions of second in command in the Kingdom.

Jesus responded by telling them that in the Kingdom of God, greatness is defined by how well we serve and how much we help others.

This is certainly a contrast to what we hear in most parts of society today. We typically look at our leaders and judge them by how many people they're responsible for, how much influence they have and the decisions they make. Whether it's a CEO leading a business, a teacher leading a classroom or a mother leading a family, we tend to judge them by how confident they look or how much control they exert over the people following them.

If I’m not careful, I can get deceived into feeling I need to be more forceful, more demanding, or get further ahead in life, trying to move up the corporate ladder.

Isn’t it wonderful to hear Jesus speak and realize He doesn't want us to do things the way the world does? In this case, He wants just the opposite. Jesus says the real heroes, the ones He values most, are the people who help others.

He says we should measure our worth by the number of people we serve and how we make their lives better. He shares this reminder in Matthew 20:25-26, “But Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.’”

Looking at things that way gives us a completely different perspective on life.

My parents didn’t reach out to those young women for recognition or to earn some type of award. They did it out of a heartfelt desire to serve, and in doing so, modeled those values to me and my siblings.

Because of my parents’ example, giving back is now a way of life for me. My husband, Tony, and I choose to be involved with low-income schools. We visit with children, read to them, encourage them and inspire them to dream.

Our hope is that our children will also develop a heart for serving others, following our lead, the legacy of my parents, and ultimately, Jesus’ desire for their lives.

My prayer for my family and yours is that we will find a way to serve, no matter how big or small. And, when we do, know that Jesus says those who serve are the leaders in His kingdom — the Kingdom of Heaven.

Lord, I thank You for giving us a different way to view leadership. I pray You give us all a heart to serve others. I pray we can utilize the gifts the Holy Spirit has given each one of us to not only help our fellow humans, but to point people to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT)

Matthew 25:40, “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (NLT)


Based on their passion for children, Lauren Dungy and her husband, Coach Tony Dungy, are writing children’s books. Austin Plays Fair and Maria Finds Courage are the first two books in the Team Dungy series. Each book teaches a life lesson by tackling character-building issues using biblical principles.

Stop by the Team Dungy website, and enter to win an amazing prize pack introducing your child as a character in the next book.


Enter to WIN a copy of Austin Plays Fair and Maria Finds Courage by Tony and Lauren Dungy. To celebrate these brand-new releases, Harvest House will give away 5 copies of both books! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and notify winners in the comments section by Monday, August 20.}


The book of James tells us that serving others, especially those in the most need, is really what having true faith is all about. And Jesus told His listeners that those people who helped the less fortunate could look forward to being rewarded in heaven because they were really serving Him. What’s one way you can better lead in your home, church or community by serving others?

Pray and ask the Lord to present you with an opportunity to show God’s love by helping one of the underserved in your community. Then be ready to act by following the Holy Spirit’s leading.

© 2018 by Lauren Dungy. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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