Editorial - The "Foot Washing" Way of Life

 At this Passover season, it is helpful to consider many of the lessons we should learn from the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. We will all remember the powerful “foot washing” example set by Jesus Christ just before the taking of the new symbols of the Passover.

 This remarkable example of Jesus Christ—the God of the Old Testament and Creator of the Universe—kneeling down and doing the job normally performed by the lowliest servant of the household shows us a number of things that we must each apply to our own lives. I would like to focus on one key aspect of Christ’s example. For the “foot washing” example of Jesus Christ was intended to show all of us: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them” (John 13:14–17).

unleavened bread

As Jesus said, we will indeed be happy, or blessed as other translations have it, if we follow His example in laying down our lives for one another as our entire way of life. Again, Jesus Christ stated: “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38–39).

Even most true Christians spend far too much energy trying to “find” their lives rather than consciously “losing” their lives in order to serve God and genuinely serve their fellow human beings. We will try to find excuses for doing what we want to do. We will use our time and energy in ways that do not contribute to building others spiritually or to building the Work of God on earth today. We will often waste one of the most precious commodities God has given us—time. We must not waste this precious commodity, but rather try to make every day of our life really “count for something” in serving others and helping others grow toward the fullness and the stature of Christ. In that way, we help ourselves at the same time to achieve the same goal.

Often, without fully realizing it, many of us try to become “leaders” by exalting the self at the expense of others. After describing how the rulers of the Gentiles did this, Jesus said, “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26–28).

Are you and I genuinely willing—as Jesus said—to become the “slave” of other human beings and serve them from the heart in order to help them attain the Kingdom of God and eternal life? This attitude is indeed totally contrary to our normal human nature. It is only through Christ in us that we can attain this attitude. Nevertheless, we should all try to “make every second count” and use the precious time and energy we have to serve others with total outflowing concern. Just as Jesus did, we must learn to build the habit of helping others, humbling the self and preparing ourselves for the ultimate job of helping God and Christ rule the entire universe in a totally loving and outflowing way!

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were often “competing” with one another and saving for themselves the “best” of everything along the way. However, Jesus Christ commanded: “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11–12).

The above verses are genuinely powerful if we are willing to fully understand them. We must always try to abase the self and do all we can to serve other human beings, as Christ Himself did when He was “made flesh” (John 1:14). Then, and only then, will we be truly “exalted” by God Himself.

Dear brethren and friends, I hope every one of you can begin to learn this lesson, as we reflect on the Passover and on the entire purpose of God to make us in His image! We have tried to build this attitude within the ministry and leadership of God’s Church as a whole in the Living Church of God. Many of you brethren realize this. In our past association, we had the so-called “super deacons” who would push people around. We would often have ministers who would take care of the self and not try to genuinely help and give and serve their brethren with every fiber of their being. Now, near the end of my life, I am grateful to God to report that we have—in my opinion—one of the most solid, dedicated and humble ministries that I have experienced in 67 years in God’s Church.

Though there are many very dedicated leaders and ministers in the Living Church of God, I will describe here just those on the U.S. Board of Directors—for they all exemplify the spirit of servant leadership we should all be striving to attain. Mr. Richard Ames, with whom all of you are familiar, serves as Director of Media Operations and is one of the most genuinely humble, giving, serving and loving human beings I have ever known. He is constantly trying to help others—along with his wife—in many, many different ways. Most of you know the constant attitude of humility and service that he has demonstrated for decades in Christ’s ministry.

Dr. Douglas Winnail is one of the finest Directors of Church Administration I have ever known and worked with—including several over the years. He is very thoughtful, kind and understanding in working with the ministry, helping decide where each one fits, and being totally loving and supporting and patient with them when they make mistakes or need to be transferred. I deeply appreciate his love, his patience and his spirit of service in helping direct the ministry of the Living Church of God.

Mr. Dexter Wakefield—our Director of Business Operations—is also one of the finest men I have ever known. He gave up a much, much larger salary and opportunity to make money in coming with us as our Business Manager, Office Manager, and writer, as well as the many other roles in which he is immersed. He has been a very fine, balanced and helpful counselor to me, and a help to the entire Headquarters Work here in Charlotte.

Mr. Rod McNair serves as Assistant Director of Church Administration and is an excellent example and a wonderful part of the legacy of Mr. Carl McNair, his father. He is constantly helping and serving others—while at the same time building and strengthening his own family, including his wife and four children. He has built one of the finest families in the entire Work of God. He sets a superb example in all these ways, and at the same time has attained a spirit of humility, sacrifice and service rather than letting any of this go to his head.

There are many, many other leaders that I would like to mention, but I cannot go on forever with this. So, I have limited myself to those ministers who serve on the U.S. Board of Directors. But I definitely want to honor—last but definitely not least—the leadership and service of Mr. Gerald Weston, who serves as President, while I remain as Chairman and work directly with him. As I have told you in a number of my letters and articles of recent date, Mr. Weston is not a “new” person to the Work. I first got to know him in my Freshman Bible Class over 51 years ago. He has been consistently a fine, dedicated and very capable leader among God’s people. He has served humbly and faithfully over churches all over the United States, Canada, Britain and Europe and now is back in Charlotte to help replace me as the human leader of the Work of God at the time of my departure.

Nearly everyone has commented that Mr. Weston has “kept his head on straight” in doing this job. He has been consistently dedicated, humble and cooperative in this entire transition period—not trying to “push” himself into this job too soon, and giving me every opportunity to continue being the overall leader in making final decisions and setting the goals for the Work of God. I am very grateful for him and want all of you, especially, to pray for him and his wife and the great responsibilities they are now entering.

I deeply appreciate the above ministers and their wives, and I will always be grateful to have had such a wonderful, loving and loyal team assisting in building this Work. Many aspects of the Work are now coming together more than ever. It will soon be obvious that we are moving ahead in proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God more powerfully than any other organization on the face of the earth. Only the living Christ is ultimately responsible for this. We know that.

But if we can keep the attitude of humility and servant leadership—if we can keep the “foot-washing attitude” constantly before us and follow Christ in that way—He will continue to lead and empower this Work in a remarkable way. Then, we can all definitely look forward to Jesus’ words: “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17). So whether we are over “ten cities,” ten nations, or perhaps even ten galaxies, we will be rewarded forever if we learn the lessons of Passover and the foot washing. So, let us learn to genuinely humble ourselves and work as a “team” under Jesus Christ to do His Work with love and humility and cooperation until the end of our human lives.

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