February 16, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Psalm 116:16
O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
Though we take on a variety of roles in our daily work – employee, boss, manager, subordinate, worker, laborer, executive, etc. – in all of life we are God’s servant. May we see ourselves in this way at work, no matter the titles or roles we fulfill.
In the ancient world, the child of a slave would belong to the master. So when the psalm writer prays, “I am your servant, the child of your serving girl,” he is saying, in effect, “I am forever your servant. I was born your servant and I will remain your servant.”
Yet the servitude of the psalm writer is not forced upon him by God. In fact, God has “loosed [his] bonds.” He is free to choose to serve the Lord and does so joyfully.
Gracious God, sometimes I can easily let my work define me. My work tries to tell me who I really am: I’m a mere employee. I’m the boss. I’m a failure. I’m a success. I’m a director. I’m an assistant. And so forth and so on.
There is a sense in which my work role matters. It helps me to know my place in the organization. It defines what I do for work, at least in part. But my job doesn’t tell me who I am. What defines me most of all is my relationship with you. You tell me who I really am.
So who am I, even at work? I’m created in your image. I’m beautiful but broken. I’m a sinner but saved. I am known and beloved by you.
And I am your servant. You have every right, dear Lord, to compel me to be your servant because you are Lord of lords, the ultimate Master. But you chose another way. You chose to become a servant in Jesus, to offer yourself for my sake. Thus, I’m your servant, not by compulsion, but in freedom, with my bonds loosed. I serve you not because I must, but because I am glad and honored to do so. Even as I love because you first loved me, so I serve because you first served me.
As I do my work today, Lord, may I see myself as your servant. Yes, I will do what the job requires. Yes, I will follow the lead of my superior. But I will do all of this as your servant, for your purposes and glory. Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
As you work today, do so as a servant of the Lord.
For Further Reflection
Read all of Psalm 116.
You may also wish to read Philippians 2:1-13.
Banner image by Katherine Conrad on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.