From birth we are spoiled. Unable to provide anything for yourself, you learn to be dependent on others doing stuff for you. It takes a lot of time and growth to be independent, and then when we are, our focus is set on ourselves. But learning to serve others requires a change of character; it requires humility.
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” — Matthew 20:28
Christ, the Son of God, had every reason to boast and be served by others. And yet, He never did. In fact, Christ humbled Himself even to the point of death! Think about that for a moment: God sent His Son down to Earth to serve. Jesus had the power to conduct endless miracles, and yet He humbled Himself. Every time we see Jesus speaking to His disciples, a crowd or answering someone’s question, it’s clear He spoke from a place of humility. He was full of wisdom, yet never made anyone feel inferior or unworthy of His presence. No matter what color, race or creed, Jesus didn’t discriminate. He saw us as we are — the human race.
How can we get to a point where we too humble ourselves to serve like Jesus did?
There are so many different ways for us to serve. Whether we give of our time, money or resources, there are always people around us in need. That’s what serving is: meeting other people’s needs. By serving others, we can be a witness to them, sharing the goodness of God and the truth of His Word with them.
So what keeps us from serving? Usually, it’s our own pride and selfishness that stands in the way. It may be a small thing we ask ourselves: “Is it really worth it?” But as my boy Demario Davis says, “Reach one, teach one.” If it’s affecting one person with the Gospel — it doesn’t have to be a group of thousands — then you are making a difference.
Serving others takes time. You have to sacrifice time you might have spent doing things you wanted to do. There are things you will need to give up in order to serve others. Time is probably the thing we are most selfish about. After all, it is our most valuable resource. We can’t buy time and we can’t get it back. If you spend time investing in and serving others, it’s the most valuable and meaningful gift you can give them.
Serving my teammates is something I’ve had to learn how to do. Early in my career, I was only worried about myself, my career and my soul. I would read the Bible and go to chapel for my own growth, until I realized Jesus’ first commission is for us to make disciples! And what better place is there for us to do that than in the locker room? You have people from all walks of life in the locker room — men who are just itching to hear God’s Word.
When you’re following Christ and seeking Him, there’s something about you that radiates to the people around you. My teammates will often see my lifestyle and ask me questions about it. Actions are great conversation starters because, whether you know it or not, people watch you. They see your character, the way you conduct yourself, the places you go and who you hang out with.
In the locker room with a lot of grown men, there are conversations that go on which I won’t let happen. Sometimes I need to step in, with no fear of being unpopular. I know I wouldn’t be serving my teammates properly if I let them continue to have that mentality toward women, marriage or whatever the topic may be.
The best way for me to serve them is to live a Godly life; I’m in the world, but not of it. Not only is it important for me to live it out, I need to speak truth to them as well. My teammates will not see me sitting in the locker room and reading my Bible one minute, and then cursing on the field the next.
I always try to have my antennas up around my teammates. When I see one of the guys going through something or in need, or simply if the Holy Spirit nudges me to have a conversation with someone, I want to be ready. Even if it’s someone I don’t know that well and don’t feel like approaching because it’s out of my comfort zone, I know God wants to get us out of our comfort zone and rely on Him. In this way, I’m able to serve my teammates beyond the field. I can impart plenty of knowledge to them about football or being a running back, but if I can also provide wisdom about life and the Word of God, I can do them a much greater service.
I never want to be unprepared if a teammate comes to me in need or looking for help. I don’t want to be caught without the answers or ignorant about where to find answers to their questions. Instead, I want to be prepared for any and every situation in which I can serve others. When that time comes, and someone needs wisdom, I hope I can share with them what I’ve obtained through reading God’s Word and seeking Him.
Early in my career, I experienced this countless times with veteran players whom I knew went to chapel. I’d seek them out, ask for counsel, and they never steered me wrong. I aim to be that veteran player today for those who seek wisdom.
Whether in the middle of a practice or the middle of the night, I want to be there for my teammates, ready to serve.
— Matt Forte, New York Jets running back