Servant or Slave?

Have you ever given much thought to the concept of slavery vs. servant?

At the risk of splitting hairs on a definition, I would propose the two are radically different.   A servant, while certainly in a role of providing duties or work for another, has an implied arrangement of mutual agreement and benefit for both parties.  One definition in the dictionary refers to it as “a person employed by another, especially to perform domestic duties”.   Slave implies a far more extreme level of servitude where there is no agreement or mutual benefit.  A slave is wholly subject to someone else and is considered part of their property.   A slave has no rights or privileges except what their owner has given them.  In our modern society, certainly here in America, we get uncomfortable using the word slave as it recalls a time in when slaves were part of not just our history, but our very economy and culture.  

I recently read were Bill Bright the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ was asked once how he was able to have the success to grow and increase Campus Crusade to the level it has reached and his response was that early in his life he literally wrote a contract on paper with God where he wrote “from this day forward, I am a slave of Jesus Christ” and he signed it as if he was signing a legal document.   Notice the choice of words, “I am a slave of Jesus Christ”.  He didn’t use a general statement like “I’ll follow Jesus” or “I’ll serve Jesus”.  No, instead he chose to identify himself as a “slave”.  The most severe form of servitude there is.    He resolved that he was not just going to casually wait on or serve the Lord; he was going to be a slave to Him.

Then Jesus said to his followers, if people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me.  Those who want to save their lives will give up true life, and those who give up their lives for me will have true life. It is worthless to have the whole world if they lose their souls. They could never pay enough to buy back their souls.  Matthew 16:24-26 (New Century Version)

This is about giving up control to God.  Surrendering to more than just his overall plan for your life.  Surrendering also to his complete and total will and his desires for you on a daily basis.  The Message translation reads verse 24 as “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat”.   We are passengers on God’s journey for our lives, not the drivers or even the co-pilots.  He leads, we follow.  We are not just servants, we are slaves.

That’s a hard concept to swallow when we use words like slave.   Even the most well-meaning Christian has pause when faced with the question of if they are a sold out slave or simply a servant to Christ.  Servant implies we get a say, a vote, in how we live our spiritual lives.  Slave makes the definitive statement that we don’t have a say, we don’t have a vote, and we don’t get to choose our direction.  That is something we surrender to God.   Either we totally lay down our will and desires to God and subject our whole self to Him, or we continue to reserve parts of our self and our attitudes towards Christian service.  We can’t have it both ways; we either give it all or we hold on to something.  God doesn’t want a selected slice of us, he wants our whole being. 

A few weeks ago I asked if you were A Fan or A Follower; today I’m taking it a step further with this question:

Are you A Servant or A Slave?


All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

I Surrender All (Public Domain)

by Judson W. Van DeVenter 1896


About meicemen

Kind of ironic isn't it that you have to fit a few words about yourself into a small box..... I am so many things - a husband and father, an avid sports fan, coach, church planter in training. My blog A Million Points of Grace touches on many of these things that "make up me" and my Christian journey on this earth.
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3 Responses to Servant or Slave?

  1. Pingback: 120310–George Hach’s Journal–Saturday | George Hach's Blog

  2. Mel says:


    This post is amazing!! I’m so glad I stumbled upon it.

    What’s funny (for lack of better word) though is everyone is actually a slave to something or someone, even if it’s their own self. Most people don’t ever realize that or acknowledge it so most people are just blind slaves. But we all live for something or someone, we all worship something or someone, we’re all slaves to something or someone.

    It is my greatest joy and my deepest desire and my most fervent prayer to become a complete slave (sole property, completely owned, under total subjection) of Jesus Christ. AMEN!!!

    Oh, random side note, it’d be interesting to count how many times Paul referred to himself as a slave of Jesus Christ throughout the new testament.

    • meicemen says:

      You are correct Mel, we all are slaves to something in our lives and our daily challenge is to review who and what those things are.

      Your comment about Paul is spot on – I actually had some references in my first draft but as editing will do they didn’t make it to the final post, however they likely will show up down the road on a new post someday. So glad you enjoy the blog and find it useful! Keep reading and stay in touch and tell others about what you read – help spread the “Million Points of Grace”.

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