Reading time: two minutes.
I just read the monthly “field notes” from one of our LCMS overseas missionaries, Africa Regional Director Shauen Trump. There are open doors to ministry, witness and service to greatly underserved populations in Kenya, and with local partnerships, they’re walking through those doors. They’re washing feet.
At it’s most elementary level, all ministry is washing feet. Some wash feet. Others refuse. Pilate picked up the basin and towel and washed Jesus right out of his life. Jesus picked up the basin and towel and told the disciples, “I’m doing this as an example for you” (John 13:15).
This week’s water analogy for healthy, balanced living is the example of our Lord. Vocational wellbeing is simply remembering that we are foot washers.
Harry Wendt, the author of the CROSSWAYS! Bible study program, sells t-shirts with Jesus washing Peter’s feet on the front and big footprints on the back with the declaration, “We Do Feet!” It’s our identity as followers of Jesus. We’re servants. We serve. It’s the history of the church at its best. We find a hurt and heal it. We find a need and fix it.
Luther reminded us that the woman scrubbing the floor for her family was doing the holy, sacred work of the kingdom of heaven just as much as the bishop preaching in the cathedral. At times in my ministry, I’ve needed just the opposite reminder. Rather than lifting up the Cinderella, I’ve needed the reminder, “Climb down out of your ivory tower pulpit, Darrell, and get down on your knees!”
Jesus’ foot washing example is so perfect for us on a couple of levels.
First, it’s a reminder that we’ve got work to do, work that no one else may want to do. Jesus on His knees with basin and towel is a reminder to me that people are hurting. People all around us are struggling. Bad days seem more common than good ones in most people’s lives. People need comfort. People need hope. People need loving care and compassion.
Most peoples’ podiatric hygiene is pretty good, but everybody needs some tenderness. As professional church workers, our days are filled with the business of ministry, but every activity, from visitation to newsletter editing to preaching to informal visits around the church office are opportunities to wash feet.
When done in humility.
And that’s the second thing that makes Jesus’ example so perfect. It’s a display of the absolute humility and selflessness of the Lord of all who would literally do anything for us, as He so clearly showed the next day.
Only rarely is a follower of Jesus called upon to bleed and die for the kingdom. We are called every day to die to our prideful self, pick up the basin and towel, and serve after His example.
When all of our ministry deeds are done in the spirit of the One who washes feet, that’s vocational wellness.
Thanks for reading. And thanks for the foot washing you’re doing this week!
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