JOHN | Humility Through Identity { DAY THIRTEEN }



Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet…” { John 13:3-5 }

At the time of life when most of my peers were advancing in their careers, getting promotions, and buying cookie cutter houses in well-manicured subdivisions, I was rebuilding my life from the rubble…waiting tables and barely scraping by. When I was in high school, I had good grades and a lot of friends. I was even voted Prom Queen my senior year. I’m sure this couple of guys would have never projected that 10 years later, they would meet for a business lunch and have me as their waitress. But that’s exactly what happened.

I wish I could say that I held my head high and served them with grace and confidence. I wish I could say that despite the comments whispered as I walked away from their table, I kept a smile on my face and tended to their every need joyfully. I wish I could say that I didn’t let being a waitress define me that day, but the truth is I did. I was embarrassed.

Looking back on this, I was so concerned with what they thought… assuming they were looking down on me. The real tragedy in this story, though, is not a couple of successful businessmen snickering at a Prom Queen-turned-waitress. The tragedy is the waitress, who was serving where she was called, but resenting it because she didn’t know who she was.

One thing I have learned since then is this: True humility grows out of a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. When we know that our needs are met in Him, when we know who we are, where we came from, and where we are going, we are able to freely serve others. If we don’t know who we are, where we came from, or where we are going, we won’t be secure enough to serve wholeheartedly.

True humility grows out of a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet

In John 13, Jesus shows us what true servanthood looks like, by washing His disciples’ feet. John emphasizes in the first few verses that Jesus knows His origin and His destiny. He tells us in John 13:1 that He knew He was going to die and return to the Father. In 13:3, He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands. It is from this place of knowing who He was and whose He was, that He was empowered to serve without hindrance.

Jesus, although He had every right in the world to be served, was the One doing the serving. In doing this, He calls us to live in a completely different paradigm than the world does. We have to think differently; we have to define success differently. Jesus invested three years of daily life with twelve men, knowing they would betray and deny Him. Yet even on the night that one would hand Him over to His executioners… Jesus washed his feet.

I sometimes re-write that day in my head…thinking of how differently that lunch could have been if my confidence would have been firmly planted in how God defines me, instead of in how I defined me. I wouldn’t have been embarrassed to serve them. Jesus certainly wasn’t embarrassed to serve or afraid of being remembered as a “feet-washer”. What if I would have greeted them confidently because I knew I was more than a waitress. What if I would have asked them about their lives and families? Instead of being so worried about what they were thinking about mine? What if I would have been an expression of Gods love to them? Maybe if my eyes would have been on Jesus, instead of on me, then maybe they would have felt blessed by me instead of sorry for me.

Our willingness to receive God’s love and then be a vessel to extend it out to others will quite naturally bring us to our knees. No task will be too menial, no act of service too low. If we can just begin to grasp God’s love, it will motivate us to serve others. God will give us the supernatural strength to love and serve, just as He did.


  • Do you struggle with defining yourself by what others think? What would happen if you focused on how others might need Jesus? What impact could this have on those around you?
  • Is it sometimes hard to serve others because it feels “beneath” us, or our qualifications? How can this account of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet help combat those feelings of self-righteousness or pride?
  • Is there an area of your life that has not gone as you maybe hoped? How can placing your identity in Christ, or helping someone else do this, impact a confidence level- even if circumstances stay the same?



Father, thank you for sending Jesus as the perfect representation of who You are. Thank you for your goodness, your kindness, your willingness to go low and serve. We know we don’t deserve to have ourselves cleansed by You, and yet You delight in doing this. Please help us to fulfill your command to follow your example. Help us to love each other so that Your love is made complete in us. When our eyes are stuck on ourselves, bring them back to you. Help us to remember why we are here- not to have worldly success, but to bring your kingdom to earth. Your kingdom is upside-down to us— it doesn’t work when we try it on our own. We need your grace, your strength, your love acting through us. Please help us to serve and love others as freely as You have served and loved us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



Elizabeth Oschwald
Elizabeth Oschwald
I’m Elizabeth, wife to an industrious, handsome fixer-upper {I mean…he fixes things, not he needs to be fixed} and Mom/Stepmom {a.k.a. Imma} to 6 amazing kids. I homeschool the ones I hatched myself, and we live on our family farm in central Illinois. I love to write about our real-life experiences, how Jesus is in everything, and how God can redeem even the biggest messes in the most beautiful, unexpected (and very Brady) ways. You can read more about my crazy crew at!

Comments are closed.

Pin It on Pinterest