In my last post I began talking about this idea of being a servant leader that we toss around in Christian circles. I’m not going to rehash all of that here. You might start by reading that post. Today I want to talk about the servant part and in another post I’ll talk about the leadership side.
I want to clarify a couple of things quickly. I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t serve people. Not at all. We often should. Again, Jesus served. He called us to serve others. What I’m suggesting that serving and leadership are not the same and our motive for serving matters.
Jesus did not serve in order to gain followers. He didn’t serve to earn relationships. The reason Jesus is the greatest servant is because he didn’t have to serve at all and yet chose to. Not only that, but He gave the ultimate service in dying for us. Jesus served His followers. But again He didn’t serve to get followers.
Not only that, but Jesus knew what people actually needed not just what they wanted. He didn’t serve them based on what or how they wanted to be served. Think of the washing of the disciples’ feet. At no point did the disciples think, “we’ll like Jesus more and follow Him more if He would wash our feet.” In fact Peter saw it as an affront at first. He knew who Jesus was (or at least was coming to know) and he knew that Jesus was the one who should be served. That’s what made it so incredible.
So what does this have to do with being a single man in the church? Here are some thoughts.
First of all, we need to understand a very important fact. Despite what we are sometimes lead to believe by evangelical leaders, you can not serve your way to attraction. What I mean is that there can be this idea that if I serve a woman she will be attracted to me.
Let’s say you really like a girl. You are attracted to her and you want her to be attracted to you. One line of thought is that you need to get to know her and do things for her or even “minister” to her. She is moving and needs help so you volunteer to help move her. You’re in college and she needs help studying so you help her study. You offer to carry things for her. You open every door for her. You look for every opportunity to serve her. She is going through a hard time and you are “there for her”.
Those are all fine things. But none of those things will make her attracted to you. If she is already attracted to you, those sorts of things could help advance the relationship at some level. But they are probably at best neutral in terms of attraction. However, if she is not attracted to you and she knows you are attracted to her it could be a negative. You could end up in the nice guy/friend zone. You are meeting her needs which is great for her, but that won’t make her attracted to you.
On top of that, and this gets back to how Jesus served, if you are serving to get her to like you (be attracted) really you aren’t being a servant. There are strings attached. Women see right through this. They might take the help. But that’s as far as it is going.
This is one of the ways that nice guys get clobbered over and over. “I did all of this for her and yet she chose this other guy. He does’t do anything for her . . . ” Well that might be true. But too bad. First of all, that’s not part of the deal. Service means just that. Pure servanthood operates without expecting anything back. Also it doesn’t matter because if the other guy who doesn’t serve her is who she is attracted to, then . . . well . . . she is attracted to him.
What I’m saying here is that serving the girl is fine. That’s your choice. But if you do it so that she will date you, then that’s really on you.
Jesus served out of strength. He did it out of love. Not romantic love or “feelings” love. He doesn’t call us to do it out of those things either. He wasn’t qualifying himself as worth being with by serving. He was already worth being with and they knew it.
This by the way carries over into marriage. We tend to sell guys on this idea that if they do certain things they will get certain results. Serve your wife to “earn” points (I’ve actually seen Christian leaders say things like this). But that’s not sacrificial service. That’s selfish service. It’s for sure not leadership. I don’t do the dishes so that my wife will like me better. I do it because why should I not do it. I do it because she made a great meal and the least I can do is help clean up. But I don’t do it expecting her to have sex with me. And I’m not counting on it making her want to. I’m for sure not doing it to bank “points”.
Let me be clear once again. I’m not anti serving. But I’m saying don’t serve with an expectation of a result for you. Don’t serve to be more attractive because it won’t make you more attractive. Don’t serve to get something in return. Serving is not a tactic. And it won’t work.
Finally let me add this. If you are serving someone in an effort to chase or get them to like you, I’d stop. Stop being the nice guy. Stop putting yourself in the friend zone. Stop trying to earn it. Don’t be used in that way. I spent significant time there in my life. It’s not effective and it won’t help you. Don’t let anyone tell you different.