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He Humbled Himself, Recovering the Lost Art of Serving by Kenneth C. Fleming. Walterick Publishers, 1989.

This is an obscure book by a little publisher (and it is also out-of-print) but it was a real gem. In an expository yet devotional type of way, the author goes through both the Old and New Testament focusing on Christ’s role as a servant and the concept of servanthood.

The contrast is startling. As Christians we believe that the almighty God of the universe humbled himself by becoming a human being, lived a life of service to others, and eventually died a humiliating death by Roman crucifixion. While we as humans are so often focused on position and power! Who wants to be a servant? Not us. Of course we are willing to help or serve sometimes! But to have the persona of a servant? That’s not very appealing.

If we are honest, I think we all consider certain things “beneath our dignity.”  Or we may indirectly demonstrate that it is really position and power that we value by how we treat the “little guy” or the person with the “lower” position. How do we treat the janitor or housekeeper? Do we even know their name? The tagline for this book is accurate…we need to recover the lost art of serving.

This book looks at biblical passages that focus on the servanthood of Jesus Christ: Philippians 2, the 4 “Servant Songs” in the book of Isaiah, the book of Mark, and John 13. It also looks at parables told by Jesus that demonstrate characteristics of being a servant, and highlights different individuals in the Bible who were called servants. In only 150 pages, this book presents a fairly comprehensive study of servanthood in the Bible.

Serving is indeed a major emphasis in the Scriptures. Strong’s Concordance has over 1,400 references listing serve in its various forms. Ultimately, this is about imitating our Savior. I was challenged by the author’s statement about Jesus in Philippians 2 and the example this is for us:

The temptation is to accept the sacrificial offering of Himself for our sins, but to reject the same sacrificial offering as the model for living. Yet, it is preposterous to accept the one and reject the other. Having freely received the benefits of his servanthood for us, we ought to naturally respond by following His example.

Or when you think about the four poetic “Servant Songs” in Isaiah – isn’t it strange that the greatest person who ever walked on the earth is characterized by the term servant? Many things in this book convicted and challenged me as I saw certain familiar passages in a new light.

Another point was that we must be servants before we can perform as servants. We must be servants in our heart. I think this can only happen by continually looking to Christ as our example.

Overwhelmed with God’s love, overwhelmed with the redemptive act which transferred us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of His beloved Son, we express our love by reaching out horizontally to others (Colossians 1:13-14). “We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).

My only criticism would be that in a couple of places early on in the book he references the role of women and I respectfully disagree with his conclusions. But the positives of the book far outweigh this and I highly recommend it to you. It may be out of print, but used copies are available.

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