Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Here in Zambia there is a special word in Cinyanja that we hear all the time: BWANA. Bwana means something like "boss man" and Zambians use it all the time to talk about people who are rich or powerful. If they are trying to get in good with you, or sell you something, you'll often be called Bwana or Boss.
There is nothing that is so contrary to what Jesus taught us to be than this word Bwana. And it is a reminder to me of what is wrong in the Zambian church, in the American church, in my own heart. As God's people, we are supposed to have the heart of the servant, even of a slave. Our Lord came to serve us by living a sinless life devoted to his Father and others; and then to voluntarily die on the cross as our redeemer. While being the most perfect and powerful man that ever lived; Jesus was not a BWANA. He was the very opposite. We are supposed to follow that example.
But instead of being ready and willing to ask, What can I do for you? Most often my heart is asking, What can you do for me? Instead of asking, What can I give you? I'm asking, What can I get from you? Maybe you think that because I am a fancy-pants missionary in Africa that I'm just ready to serve others every day with a big McDonald's customer service type smile on my face... but unfortunately that is not true. I have to struggle every day to remind myself that I am a servant and not a Bwana.
This morning I read a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi. This is my prayer today for my own heart and for the heart of the church here in Zambia and for those of you around the world:
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much to seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love...