After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him—John 13:5.
Jesus was the master of menial tasks. He was not afraid to get His hands dirty—literally. There was nothing and no one beneath Him, for He valued everyone. Jesus put Himself into the shoes of others so that He could relate to their world and serve them well. Success did not shield Him from the ordinary. His heart was all about service; He knew that service around menial tasks unlocked opportunities to influence. Jesus expects you, as a follower of His, to follow His example.
“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you”—(John 13:15).
No level of authority exempts you from serving others. Pride or dignity may cause you to resist things such as working in a soup kitchen, tutoring an underprivileged illiterate, vacuuming the house, unloading the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, washing clothes, running errands, maintaining the house (though better stewardship may be to hire someone else!), making photo copies, or returning phone calls. Yet, when you execute these menial tasks, you reflect Christ.
Through your service to others, you truly lead. Otherwise, people are just intimidated into producing results for fear of your hostile reprisals. How much healthier it is for family, friends, and work associates to be motivated by your service than by your threats. It may start out awkwardly; it may take time for people to get used to the sight of you helping out. But when you start managing by walking around your computer instead of hiding behind it, people will be amazed. Encourage by engaging personally with people, not just sending impersonal e-mails. At first, they may resist, wondering what’s come over you. But your willingness to roll up your sleeves will win them over. Start with a handwritten thank you note to your direct reports. Value them as your most important “customer.” Wash their feet by constantly caring for them first.
Menial tasks can become mundane over time. They can become boring and predictable, so stay fresh and challenged. Do not be satisfied with the status quo. Challenge the system and execute in a more excellent way. If you take for granted your position or technical skills, you may become sloppy in your service and lazy in your work. Always become better at what you do. Anybody can do anything for a short period of time. But it takes stamina and character to continue mastering the menial over the long run. Take continuing education classes. Improve your speaking and writing skills by engaging a speech or writing coach.
Use technology to enhance and accelerate the menial. Nothing, however, will ever replace your need to give personal attention to important details. The devil is in the details, so give attention to them. This keeps him from taking you hostage. Yes, delegate, but do not make the mistake and abdicate. People appreciate your thinking of the details that affect them. Your accountability to carry out the menial makes others want to do the same, so plan ahead. Serve others where they least expect you to get involved. Then it becomes infectious. So be a contagious carrier who reflects Christ. There is no task too menial for your Master. Join Him where He serves.