Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Dirty Feet and Dodgeball

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My 8 year old daughter preached me a sermon last week.

She is reading through the gospel of John, and shared what she learned. Mind you, she didn’t intend to preach. She simply read something that was too good for her to keep inside.

In John 13 she came to the part where Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. She identified with Peter and his initial refusal to have his feet washed followed by his desire to have his entire body washed.

I asked her why she liked it, and her explanation focused on these few verses on serving others.

14 So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. 15 I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. (The Message online)

Her response was simple. “A person at a higher level in life shouldn’t think of themselves as better than others. Instead, they should do things for others.”

Unsure of what “higher level in life” means to an 8 year old, I asked her. And then she gave me an incredibly clear pictures of what Jesus might mean.

It’s like when you play dodgeball. If you have more balls than another person, you ought to share your balls with them. Or if you are really good at throwing the ball, it doesn’t matter. Your goal should be to let someone else throw it. And maybe you should get hit and get out of the game before they do.

photo by PhotoBen27 (creative commons)

I was devastated.

When I was a kid, dodgeball was a sacred schoolyard game. It was a test of how important and athletic and gifted you were.

If you could nail another kid in the head from 30 feet out and immediately respond by catching a ball aimed at your knees, you had what it takes to lead the pack in the 5th grade. The other kids loved you. You might even get picked first.

You were a hero. Of sorts.

I could picture my daughter playing dodgeball at school. Giving the ball to other kids that should have just been gotten out anyways. Helping them last longer. Helping them have a good time. While getting nailed in the head herself.

Caring and helping, meanwhile losing the game.

Do You Wash the Feet of Others?

Her application of the concept of serving was simple. Almost too simple. But Jesus tells us that to inherit the kingdom, we must have the faith of a child. Faith like my daughter’s.

Simple. Innocent. All in.

Does it really matter how competitive we are in dodgeball? Probably not. But being a servant does.

My daughter has a servant’s heart and she is applying it to everything in her life. Even something as insignificant as dodgeball.

Viewed life from her eyes and her heart, this is what it means to serve like Jesus.

  • Sharing out of your abidance.
  • Giving others what they need.
  • Helping others excel, even if you suffer as a result.
  • Saying no to what makes you comfortable and happy, if it can make others comfortable and happy.
  • Being happy and willing to lose.

I haven’t played dodgeball in a long time, but now I play different games. More grown up games. Games where I promote my self over others.

Games where I try to prove my importance and self worth through having a bigger house or a flashier watch or a newer car or a bigger vacation.

My daughter probably doesn’t win many dodgeball games. She probably isn’t picked first when choosing teams. But she doesn’t need to be.

She has something better. She is confident and happy about who she is in the eyes of Jesus. And so she is choosing to serve.

Washing the feet of others never happens on accident. Nobody happens into it. It is a dirty, thankless, hard job.

You must choose to be a servant.

How have you been able to serve others? Has someone else served you?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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8 Replies

  1. Papa

    I learn a lot by just watching that eight year sweetie live her life.

  2. Whoa…
    She dropped some wisdom in a way that only kids can. I get the whole “playing grown up games” metaphor too, what a waste of talent and resources that could otherwise be pointing to God and bringing him glory.

    This was a great read to start the week.

  3. Oh man Jeremy. Your daughter is wise beyond her years.

  4. Wow! Thats good stuff! NO. It’s GREAT stuff!

  5. Thanks, Kirsten, and thanks for sharing it.

  6. She did. i wasn’t ready for it when she started talking to me. I definitely underestimated her myself.

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