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Humble Service

Serving others humbly is one of the main ways we imitate how Jesus lived and loved.

Throughout his life, Jesus showed both humility and service toward others. That’s pretty amazing considering he was God himself and could have demanded that everyone else serve him. But he didn't, and the Bible says we should imitate his example.

But being truly humble is difficult for humans. That's what started the whole downward spiral of sin in the first place — humans thought they knew better than God how life should be lived, which is about as prideful as it gets.

Humans don't just struggle to put God first. We also struggle to put others first. Maybe that’s why the Bible includes so many stories and teachings that remind us to love and serve others like Jesus did. These things aren't optional for followers of Christ. They are essential.

Being humble doesn’t mean to think badly about yourself or cut yourself down. It means to focus less on self and more on others. It means to believe that Jesus, not you, knows what’s best for the world, for others, and for yourself. When someone is humble, serving others becomes easier and more natural because they start seeing people the way Jesus does — as God's beloved creation, worthy of honor and respect.

Consistently displaying humble service can be a challenge. And sometimes it’s most challenging in the places where we’re most comfortable, like at home with our families or at school with our peers.

Wherever you are, and whoever you’re with, always remember that Jesus calls us to humbly serve others, not with a stubborn attitude that says, “I have to because he said so,” but with a loving attitude that says, “I am glad and grateful to serve others because that’s what Jesus did.”

Warm-Up

Begin with a conversation starter,​ then use some of these warm-up questions.

  • How would you rank yourself in terms of humility: somewhat humble? not humble at all? very humble? (Is it even possible to know how humble you are??)
  • How would you define humility? In your life, who embodies true humility? What does that look like?
  • How can you tell if someone is truly humble?
  • How would you describe service? Do you think it’s possible to serve un-humbly? If so, give an example.
  • What difference might there be between being prideful just because and being proud of something you’ve done, made, or accomplished?
  • How do you think someone becomes more humble?

Read & Reflect

Use one or more of these passages to see what Scripture says about humble service. You can also engage with the passage by copying out part of it, rewriting it as a prayer, rephrasing it as its opposite, summarizing it with a single word or phrase, making a list or chart of similar and dissimilar things, or turning it into something visual like a doodle, design, or flowchart.

Jesus' Example

Read John 13:1-17 (Jesus washes his disciples' feet). ​

  • Think about the things Jesus both did and did not say to his disciples. Do you notice anything important or surprising? [Here's some background info​ on New Testament foot-washing.]
  • How have you seen someone show humble service to another person?
  • What are some ways that you can engage in humble service with your family? friends? roommates? co-workers? neighbors? others?
  • Jesus did wash actual feet in this story. But he used this action as an image or metaphor for humbly serving others. Talk about that.

Positive Example

Read Luke 10:25-27 (parable of the good Samaritan).

[Here's some background info​ on the relationship between Jews and Samaritans.]

  • How were the Samaritan's actions humble? How do you think his thoughts and attitudes impacted his actions?
  • Who did the Samaritan’s actions serve besides the injured man?
  • If this story happened today between two groups of people who didn’t love each other, how do you think people would respond to the injured man? What do you think people would say about the person who helped the injured man?
  • Do you know anyone who serves humbly like the Samaritan did in this story? Describe that person.

Negative Example

Read Luke 10:38-42 (Martha's unhumble attitude).

  • What are some positive things you see in Martha’s actions and attitudes?
  • Why do you think her attitude shifted?
  • Think about a time when your humble actions became distorted by negative thoughts or attitudes — in other words, things started out OK, but then your thoughts, emotions, or attitudes spoiled things. How can you keep that from happening?

Teaching Passage

Read Philippians 2:5-8 or Colossians 3:12-15.

  • Why do you think the Bible teaches that we should imitate Jesus' humility? Why is that such a big deal?
  • What things did Jesus willingly give up when he became human? What things did he willingly take on when he became human?
  • Spend some time reflecting on Jesus’ willingness to give up what he inherently deserved (all the rights of his deity) in comparison to our unwillingness to let go of things that aren’t even ours to begin with (like our desire for control and self-rule).
  • Turn your reflections into a prayer.

Some Ideas About How to Humbly Serve Others

Make a list of jobs, tasks, or chores that need to be done in your home each week that you currently don’t help with. Pick one of those to do regularly and consistently for the rest of this school year. Don’t make a big deal about it. Just do it — without being asked, and even if you never get noticed or thanked.

Identify someone in your school who could use extra help with carrying things, doing schoolwork, or other things. Look for ways to help out this week.

Is there a neighbor who could use some help — maybe with yardwork, bringing out trash, or carrying groceries? Offer to help.

 

Student Card

Capernaum Version

More verses about humble service

He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. (Psalm 25:9)

The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. (Psalm 68:30)

Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. (Psalm 138:6)

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the LORD. The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 29:19)

“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

Seek the LORD, all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly. (Zephaniah 2:3)

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:13)

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sister. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. (1 Peter 3:8)

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. (1 Peter 4:10)

Resources for people who help others become more like Jesus.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2103 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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