If service is key to being a follower of Christ, then how do we know we are serving? There are four things I think will help us understand service.
First, true service always results in people following Jesus Christ and not the servant. Often the game of power and prestige is played by getting more and more people to respect your authority and to fall under your leadership. Service, however, does not point to itself but to God. In service, the powerful and prestigious do not draw attention to themselves, but are simply God’s conduit . . . God’s channel . . . God’s window for revealing Himself.
Second, service is a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in a person on behalf of other people. True service does not seek advantage or privilege for the servant. The point of service is not to look like a good person or to gain Godly bonus points. Service does not point at all to the servant by only to the other being served.
Third, Godly servants know that they are not different from the people served. There is no hierarchy of importance. Both the servant and the one being served are coworkers in the same task. Everyone is treated with the same value as a human being created in the image of God.
Lastly, a servant by necessity has to sacrifice personal right and privilege. No one serves without giving something up, whether it be time, talents, resources . . . service requires sacrifice. If no sacrifice is needed then you are not genuinely serving.
Adapted from: Snodgrass, Klyne R. (1993). "Your Slaves – On Account of Jesus" Servant Leadership in the New Testament. Servant Leadership, 1, 15-16.