Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Servant

There is a man at the creche who is the picture of Jesus's humility.

His job is to be the security guard, so he often sits at his post near the front gate of the creche, but in little moments throughout the day, he finds ways to wash the feet of everyone at the creche.

He will walk through the yard and pick up all the toys that are scattered around. Halves of Easter eggs that the babies were playing with the day before, broken crayons, blocks, toy cars, flash cards that got separated from the deck, and other assorted things all find their way into his basket, and he returns them to their proper places. He also picks up whatever dried leaves and sticks have fallen from the trees so that the grounds are always kept spic and span.

He will carry buckets and buckets of water from the well for the nannies when the generator goes down and there is no water at the creche.

He will empty the garbage whenever it gets full.

As he walks around doing these odd jobs, he prays.

I have never heard him raise his voice or get frustrated at anything or anyone.

Even the very way he walks, the way he holds his head, and the way he looks around, all somehow speak of humility.

His Bible is always open, and when he sits at his post, he reads and reads and reads the Bible. You can tell it is well-loved because the edges of the pages are turning brown from constant thumbing.

One day, I asked one of our older boys who speaks English well, "What is the security guard's name?"

He explained to me, "Well, his name is technically Nilyou, but everyone in the town and in the creche call him Sèvite." (pronounced "seh'-vee-tay")

"Sèvite?" I asked.

"Yes, sèvite means 'servant' in Creole," he said. "Everyone calls him that because he is always walking around with his Bible and praying and serving God. No one uses his real name--everyone just knows him as Sèvite."

I can see why. He truly has adopted the posture and attitude of a servant of God. I admire the way that he models true servanthood and humility.

But it's one thing to admire it, and quite another to live it out when it means that everyone nicknames you "Servant" and then forgets you have a name.

Would I be okay with that?

"SEVITE!!" the nannies will shout from one end of the creche to the other. "SEVITE!!!" He might be out of earshot, around back delivering a bucket of water to the laundry ladies, and someone might knock at the gate. I'm sure the entire neighborhood can hear the cries. "SEVITE!!"

Would I bristle at having my status broadcast to everyone in the vicinity? "SERVANT!!"

I believe it was Amy Carmichael who said that the test of a true servant is how you react when you're treated like one.

How would I do?

Would I resent the fact that people exploited my servant's attitude for their own ease and comfort?

Would I seek to camouflage my devotion to God so that I wouldn't earn spiritual-sounding (but derogatory [to the flesh]) nicknames?

Would I back away from the purity of my humble service and do something un-servant-like, just to keep people from labeling me a fanatic?

Sèvite does none of these things. He humbly goes on and does the Master's bidding. He carries his Bible around with him, unashamed to be a student of the Word. If he feels the sting of being called a servant and treated like one, he doesn't show it. He continues to live a life of humility, continually giving more fodder to those who call him a servant and reinforcing their notion that they labeled him correctly. He is unafraid to be labeled. He does God's work without consulting his own reputation. He lifts up God's name at the expense of his own.

"He must increase, but I must decrease," said John the Baptist.

I have the privilege of being around one who models this better than any human being I've ever met.

Sèvite at his post with his Bible


  1. Thankyou so much. What a challenge and an encouragement. Last night we listened to Eric's "Christian Work Ethic" for Joe's Ellerslie homework. This man is a perfect example that it can be done - through the power of the Holy Spirit.


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