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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Honor of Servanthood

I've recently been drawn back into watching the television series "Downton Abbey." If you haven't seen it, a brief synopsis would be that it is a show about an aristocratic family, set in England, during the 1910's and 1920's. The show, however, focuses greatly on how the hired help functions and how their lives intersect with their employers'.

Before seeing this show, I hadn't put much thought into the servants of the elite class. I especially hadn't thought about how these servants were considered respectable because of their job placement. I suppose I had always equivilated servanthood with slavery- lowest class citizens in work related bondage, only they were slightly compensated.

The show paints a much different version of this situation though. It shows that these elite families, living in heir palatial houses with dozens of servants, owning hundreds of acres of land, and being well established in the community, were often the main employers for whole towns and villages. To become an employee as a chauffeur, footman, valet, or ladies' maid showed aptitude, training, and earned the servant a certain amount of respect from the community in general, both lower/middle class and the upper rung of society.

All of this has lead me to think on servanthood and our call to be like servants. So often I forget that there is indeed honor in servanthood. Not everyone can be the president of a company or the organizer of an event. There are always underlings who are quietly working away at a task at hand, going away without much thanks, never knowing if they are making a difference. Their position, and all that it entails may not be as glamorous, fashionable, or desirable as others, but hard work has been put in to becoming who they are and that, in and of itself is honorable.

We face the choice to be a servant every day,
as a wife,
mother,
daughter,
sister,
friend,
employee,
volunteer,
neighbor,

and in our relationship with God.

Our call to servanthood plays itself out again and again in the Bible, with over 700 references to servants and the story surrounding their masters and their actions. Often the servants go unnamed but their story and the impact of their work has been captured for all of history to see.

When it comes down to it, whether or not our reputation as a servant is honorable or not, all depends on the quality of work and the way in which we conduct ourselves in our work.

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