Heathdale flower 18th August 2022

Actions That Speak

Throughout the Bible, we see that actions speak louder than words, and Jesus showed us that good leaders act from a posture of servanthood. As a school community, how can we be more servant-hearted?

Heathdale flower

A little while back, I was chatting to a prospective parent who had their toddler with them. As I was chatting with the parents, their toddler wandered around my office looking at the various things on display. He would pick various items up or point at them and ask, “What’s this? What’s this for?”

One of the things he kept coming back to was the bowl and cloth that are sitting in the middle of the coffee table. He would just look at it as if he was trying to work out what it did other than sit there. Finally, he asked, “What’s it for?”

I told him that it was gift from the College to me when I became the Executive Principal at my previous school, and it was something that held special memories for me.

At this time, I was presented with five gifts. Each gift was a symbol to remind me something about being called to be a Principal. The gifts were a Bible, a photo of the school sign, a credit card, a rock and a bowl with a cloth.

As I received each gift, I was told the significance behind the symbolism of each gift:

1. The Bible was to remind me that God will lead and guide this community and I need to seek and find Him in and through His word found in the Holy Bible.

2. The photo was to remind me of the community that has been established here, and as the leader, I was to nurture and develop this community.

3. The credit card is a symbol to remind me God has richly blessed this community with great resources. I am entrusted with these resources, to use them wisely and remember they are a gift from God.

4. The rock was to remind me that my family are my base, and I should never forget that they in fact release me each day to fulfil the call to serve the College community.

5. Finally, the bowl and cloth are symbols that remind me of how to lead this community. By following the example of Jesus, I need to seek to lead this community through serving it.

I have written this expanded detailed story for your benefit, as a five-year-old just can’t concentrate long enough to listen to all these details! The toddler was more than happy with my response that it was a gift! (Sometimes it’s important to keep it simple!)

As I was reading my Bible recently, I was recently reminded of the significance of the bowl and towel when I read the following:

“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 and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him…"Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:3-7, 12-17)

Had I been one at the table when Jesus washed His disciples feet, I think I would have been just as confused and bewildered as they were! Jesus presented them with a deep truth that demonstrated the heart of greatness. The heart of the truly great is humble enough to be a servant of all.

As I pondered this passage from the Bible, it is interesting to note how Jesus was able to get His disciples, though not immediately, to understand this seemingly unacceptable truth. He did it by modelling or enacting it!

Dr Alexander McLaren, the great Scottish preacher who lived in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, made this comment in one of his sermons: ‘The greatest truths are not just spoken, but acted.’ He went on to illustrate this point by then saying: ‘When Mary broke the alabaster box of precious ointment, she said nothing – but her actions spoke volumes. When Christ hung on the cross, His words were few, but His act had eternal repercussions. When followers of Jesus are involved in the act of communion, taking a piece of bread and drinking from a cup, celebrating Jesus’s death and resurrection, little is said but a lot is proclaimed.’

As difficult as it may have been for the disciples to accept the truth of Jesus’ words, it was impossible for them to ignore the impact of His actions. The One who knelt before them was the Creator of the universe, the One who could truly claim greatness, demonstrating a servant heart. The disciples in desiring to build a reputation of greatness or at least raise their status, got nowhere. How powerfully this action of Jesus must have brought home to their hearts the lesson that the Godly path to greatness lies in the route of authentic servanthood!

Understanding this biblical truth enabled the disciples in a later time to forget about greatness and be like Jesus Christ and serve. As they learnt to bend, they learnt how to become great; but it wasn’t driven by the goal to become great, greatness was a consequence of their servant heart!

As I ponder on this biblical truth, I’m reminded of a verse from the Old Testament, Micah 6:8. This verse encourages us to: 'act justly, love kindness and to walk humbly'. Each of these is a servanthood action; they are not actions that are promoted by those who want greatness as their goal. They are the actions of a servant who would want to see those around them to be blessed more than they are.

May this be the heart and practice of our community that we desire to serve before we want to claim greatness. My prayer is that when our actions are combined with our words, we will proclaim far and wide the blessing of knowing and living for Jesus our Servant King!


Ross Grace
Executive Principal