We live in a self-centered society that wants comfort and happiness. It is also a society that wants to be served by others. We might compare the many who followed Christ. There were curious followers and even convinced followers, but some were following from the wrong motives: Others followed for food John 6: Regardless, the Lord regularly challenged these impure motives.
This false mentality manifests itself in the church in a number of ways. For instance, consider the reason many, if not most churches today, hire a pastor or a pastoral staff.
Jesus, the Model Servant Leader
The biblical reason, of course, should be to be equipped for ministry. But churches far too often hire pastors to be their ministers, not to equip them for ministry. They want leaders who will serve them and make their lives comfortable. But this is contrary to the servant principle of Scripture and the biblical goal of leaders which is to help their people develop into true mature Christ-like believers. Leaders and disciples alike must recognize that having the wrong goal making the flock happy and comfortable ultimately leads to misery, not true happiness.
I want to be happy but the paradoxical truth is that I will never be happy if I am concerned primarily with becoming happy. My overriding goal must be in every circumstance to respond biblically, to put the Lord first, to seek to behave as he would want me to. Why is servanthood so important to the Christian life and to Christian ministry?
Well, just consider the very negative consequences of selfish service as seen in woes pronounced on the Pharisees in Matthew Further, a self-serving kind of lifestyle is not only contradictory to the life, death, and message of the Savior, but it engenders division in the body of Christ. Service that is at self-serving simply cannot hold up under the pressures of the ministry and the large doses of criticism that often go with the territory.
In fact, if we fail to find our significance in the Savior, we will become obsessed with gaining recognition. This obsession will often lead to burnout—to anger, bitterness, and a heart that is poisoned against ministry. What are some of the hindrances to developing a servanthood mentality. As you consider the following, think about your own life and natural tendencies.
This is very evident in the reluctance of the disciples to take the towel and the position of a servant as seen in John When Christians fail to rest in who they are in Christ, they will constantly be battling the need for importance or significance from within their own desires and felt needs. Further, this need will be constantly inflamed by the influences of a world system that operates on a totally different basis. Everyone faces the problem of meeting their felt needs by their own solutions and defense and escape mechanisms i. Rather, our need and responsibility is to trust the Lord for our acceptance, ability, production, and strength.
Jesus, the Greatest Servant Leader
Based on biblical values and truth, we must, by faith and an act of our will, firmly reject the goal of seeking to serve our own needs and adopt the goal of becoming servants of others like the Lord. As mentioned, people often seek their self-worth from the opinions of people rather than by the value God places on their lives according to His Word. This naturally results in a lack of commitment and in wrong priorities and pursuits which will leave little or no time for the Lord or ministry to others and the body of Christ.
What, then, are some of the consequences of a lack of servanthood in the body of Christ? This is most evident in the actions of the disciples see again Luke I can always get plenty of first violinists. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.
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The attitude is, we are here to be ministered to rather than be equipped for ministry. This can be caused by exhaustion simple because a few people are attempting to do all the work. Or, as mentioned above, burnout can occur because of the pressure and hurt brought on to a large degree by self-serving motives for acceptance, etc. One of the clear goals of Ephesians 4: In fact, this is a mark of maturity. Speaking of the goal of equipping the saints into mature servants, the apostle Paul said,. As each one does its part, the body grows in love. This naturally leads to bitterness, contention, and division in the body of Christ.
And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble 1 Pet. Pride or the absence of humility quenches the Holy Spirit cf. So just how can I develop the heart of a servant that will lead to genuine growth in selfless, servant living? Though certainly not exhaustive, the following thoughts I trust will be helpful in this regard.
Learning to live as a servant naturally begins by following the Lord Jesus. As believers who are to follow in the steps of our Savior, it is important that we focus on Him because He was and is the epitome of humility, maturity, and leadership. That which most uniquely characterized Him was servanthood. Even now, though seated at the right hand of the Father as the glorified Lord, He continues to minister to us as our Advocate and Intercessor and Head of the body of Christ.
This is tremendously significant especially in light of who He was and is. The road to successful leadership is paved with the solid concrete of humble service for others. Knowing and being confident of His identity John This was a symbol of the service He continues to perform for us in the daily cleansing of our sins even though He is the risen and exalted Lord.
His kind of service set an example.
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Jesus teaches all leaders for all time that greatness is not found in rank or position but in service italics his. He makes it clear that true leadership is grounded in love which must issue in service. No one in their own energy has the ability to give themselves sacrificially as a servant according to the example of the Savior. For this we need the transforming ministry and enablement of the Holy Spirit and the renewing direction, grace, and strength that comes from living and growing in the Word.
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Thus, a Word-filled Col. The self-serving spirit and mind-set of the world is opposed to the mind of sacrificial servant living. Thus, based on the mercies of God available to believers in Christ, the apostle appeals to Christians to surrender themselves to God as living sacrifices.
Essential to that, and in keeping with living a Spirit-controlled and Word-filled life, is the need for daily renewing the mind in the truth of the Word. Paul immediately, therefore, points his readers to their responsibilities in Christian ministry Rom. Again, in the realm of surrender and sacrifice, the Lord Jesus is our perfect example. Therefore, as He was willing to sacrifice and surrender that He might serve our needs become our Redeemer and Advocate , so we are to be willing to serve, surrender, and sacrifice to meet the needs of others as a display of the mind of Christ Phil 2: For the Christian, then, this means a knowing the Word which identifies the true needs of people and then b working in the power of the Spirit to meet those needs according to our gifts, opportunities, and abilities see Acts 6: It also means caring about people and getting to know them personally so we can help meet their particular needs as we are given opportunity, as we have ability to do so, and as the Lord provides a way to do so.
In Him we are complete Col. What could be more significant than being called a child of God, a title that applies to all believers in Christ.
For this reason the world does not know us: But we know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. Otherwise, even if he does render service, it will often be from a self-serving motive like acceptance or praise see John It invariably leads to defensive and protective behavior patterns that put self above others. If this was true with the Lord Jesus, and it was, then it must also be so with us see again John Following the example of the Savior, believers are to function as servants who seek to minister to one another in loving and selfless service.
Am I, in submission to the Lord and to others, seeking to serve, or am I seeking to be served in the pursuit of my wants? Seeking to promote servant living, the apostle reminds us in Philippians 2: I believe that the first three, encouragement in Christ, a comfort provided by love, and fellowship in the Spirit are what come to us through our walk with the Savior—they are the products of fellowship. The last two, affection and mercy, may refer to the results of Christ in us as it is to be expressed to others in selfless concern.
In other words, as the God of peace and the God of all comfort, He wants us to have His peace and He wants to comfort us, but He is more concerned about our character as expressed in servant living than our comfort. His ultimate goal is not to pamper us physically or emotionally, but to perfect us spiritually , conforming us into the character of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus gave Himself redemptively for us to restore us to God and create a people who would live as servants of God in the service of others proclaiming the good news and loving others for Him.
Thus, as Christ gave Himself, so God wants us to give ourselves for others. Even serve those who are overlooked, needy or outcasts in our society? To serve without needing any affirmation, feedback or kudos might be difficult for you. My friend Irma taught me how to do this. Irma has been part of my life through a prayer ministry for over fifteen years. Irma was retired and was available to do occasional office work, so in addition to the prayer ministry, I asked her to help with receptionist duties in our office.
She was really good at tasks like answering phones, preparing mailings, and greeting customers. I knew I would be paid for my time so I offered the same to Irma. I do not want to be paid.
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I am serving because I love God and want this work to be for Him. Think about random and intentional acts of service, pray about what is in front of you right now. For some, it might be noticing something that needs to be done at home, at the office, in the community or in your own church. I am impressed by my friend, Dianne, who recently stepped up into a vacancy on our leadership team. She has helped in the role that was vacated, but has not yet been trained. Dianne understood something that some people never get.
She became aware of the timing of the vacancy and her desire to serve. Her obedience and willingness are an inspiration to our team. Our group thanked her for her heart to serve. A Lesson from My Father: Two of the servants work hard and double the money they received. The man rewards both servants the same, honoring their diligence more than the specific amount of money they had. But the third servant, who received the least amount of money, hid it in the ground because he was afraid of losing it.
Because he refused to take risks, he had no increase. This displeased the master, greatly:. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
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And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. Spiritualizing our rationale for not stepping into leadership is not an excuse before the Lord. Whatever resources the Lord has given us we are required to use. The stakes are high, but He will honor with His strength every effort we make to obey.