My Mom, the Servant Leader

When you walk through the front doors of my church and pass through the foyer door into the sanctuary, the first thing that will catch your eye is a gorgeous mural depicting Jesus Christ ascending into heaven, surrounded by a column of rich deep-stained wood. As you glance around the sanctuary several beautiful stained glass windows will come into view, also surrounded by columns of the same dark wood. But it did not always look this way. When I was a kid, these amazing columns were covered in a not-so-spectacular shade of 80’s blue. And I am sure that before they were painted blue they had been painted at least once, if not several times in the church’s hundred year history, in an equally tragic color or two. 

    As a teenager I have a vivid memory of my mother, Jackie Yarborough, pastor’s wife and servant-extraordinaire, on a scaffold in this same sanctuary. Perched thirty feet in the air, armed with a heat gun and a scraper, she spent hour after hour heating the many layers of paint until they bubbled up and released from the wood underneath, and she could scrape the paint, allowing it to fall in a thud to the floor. Hour after hour she spent uncovering the beautiful wood, which, incidentally matches the ornate altar, pulpit and organ surround original to the building. Then she spent several more hours- even days - staining and protecting the naked wood. The result is a labor of love appreciated by every congregant of Community Gospel Church, although I am sure that most are unaware that it is my mother’s handiwork.

    The truth is that there is almost no place in the entire huge building that has not been scrubbed, painted, scraped, and cleaned by my mother. This is what she does. This is who she is. Many pastor’s wives enjoy standing next to their husbands, speaking to the congregation, leading from the front. But my mother, she leads...but she leads from behind, or perhaps it’s better said that she leads next to the members of CGC. She walks with them, serving and ministering, quietly, softly. She never asks for recognition, never seeks attention. She just does what she does, and to God be the glory.

    Jesus said this in Mark 10:42-45 (NLT)

"So Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.' ”

    This is my mother. She did not seek to be a leader, but by being a servant of all she has become one. As Jesus came to give His life, my mom gives her life daily for the cause of Christ, for the furthering of His kingdom, and for the edification of His people. 

    As a teenager, the last thing I wanted was to be like my mother. I craved spotlight and honor. But a wise friend lovingly rebuked me. She said that my mom was an amazing, Godly woman, and I could do no better than to end up just like her. She was completely right. 

    The truth is that I can never achieve the greatness my mother has. Few can say that they have served more constantly and selflessly than she has. But I do strive to follow her example and live as a selfless servant. I love you, Mom.