Serving

Trusted ministries serve boldly following the invitation and command of Jesus,
who set the ultimate example.

 

by Dan Busby

 

Recently I flew into Lambert Field in St. Louis on a very warm summer day. The young man driving the bus for my favorite rental car company (to protect the guilty, they will remain nameless) seemed lethargic. My first indication of this was when he didn’t offer to help me onto the bus with my multiple pieces of luggage.

When you go
the second mile,
the traffic will be
so sparse it will
seem like you are
in the HOV lane
on the freeway.

Then we stopped at another terminal. Patiently waiting in the heat was a mother and her eight-year-old daughter. The girl was in a wheelchair. Without leaving his seat, the driver asked if he should send another vehicle that had a chair lift. The mother said, “No, I can lift my daughter into the van.” I hesitated, thinking the young man surely would get up and provide assistance—but he sat motionless. With no thought of doing anything heroic, I quickly helped the mother get her daughter, the wheelchair, and their luggage on the bus. On the way to the rental car office, I visited with the mother and daughter and learned of the girl’s multiple back surgeries and their trip to St. Louis to again visit their surgeon.

I concluded that the young man driving the bus that day probably was AWOL for the training session on boldly serving customers. The experience in St. Louis served as a reminder to me of the importance of serving boldly and going far beyond the job description—going the second mile.

Trusted ministry leaders serve boldly following the invitation and command of Jesus, who set the ultimate example. Jesus was God’s Servant. He came as a servant to accomplish God’s will in the redemption of humanity.

Nothing costs so little,
goes so far, and
accomplishes so much
as a single act
of merciful service.
Auguste Renoir

Serving often means following. “We all lead and we all follow in life, but more often than not, we lead and follow wherever we are placed in this life. Those who cannot recognize that they lead at times and follow at others, can do neither well.”[1]

To serve boldly, we must develop the servant attitude of Christ, calling for humility and obedience. In His instructions to His disciples about His servanthood, Jesus described His own role of service: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:27–28 NKJV).

The servant of a human master works for his master. God, however, works through His servants. When we come to God as His servant, He first wants us to allow Him to transform us into the instrument of His good pleasure. Then He can take our life and put it where He wills and work through it to accomplish His purposes.[2] Only then are we in a position to serve boldly.

Biblical examples of trusted leaders who served boldly abound. Here are a few of my favorites:

The world cannot always
understand a person's
profession of faith, but it
can understand service.
Ian Maclaren
  1. Elijah. He boldly challenged the prophets of Baal to a public test to prove once and for all whose God was the true God (1 Kings 18:20–40). He took a big risk, as he was outnumbered 450 to 1. Elijah proposed that the prophets of Baal prepare a sacrifice and ask their god to send fire to consume it. He would do the same and appeal to the God of Israel for fire. God answered with fire consuming the sacrifice (and even the stone altar) as Elijah had proposed. God did His mighty work, but He acted through His obedient servant, Elijah, who served boldly.
  2. Peter and John. After Jesus’ resurrection, God healed a crippled beggar through Peter. Peter and John were called before the Sanhedrin to give an account of their actions. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke boldly to the religious leaders, and “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13 ESV).
  3. Amos the herdsman. The prophet Amos was not popular, but he was very bold in his prophesying. Paul wrote, “With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back” (2 Cor. 3:12). He did not rely on the teaching or training he had received. He had the word of God—and that was enough.
  4. Noah. It took boldness for Noah to build a boat—a really big boat. God warned him about things that had never happened before. Building an ark didn’t make sense and required years of hard work, but Noah boldly obeyed God’s instructions (Gen. 6).
  5. Hannah. She promised God that if she bore a son, she would give him back for God’s service. It took boldness for Hannah to take her child to Eli the priest and leave him to be raised in the Temple. But God rewarded Hannah, as Samuel became one of the most influential and godly men in the Bible (1 Sam. 1).

Do you want to serve God boldly in the large or small issues? Then find out what the Master is doing and submit yourself fully to Him, serving with boldness (Luke 16:10). Jesus said, “If any of you wants to serve Me, then follow Me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves Me” (John 12:26).

We are His workmanship, created for good works. In Ephesians 2:10, we read, “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”

The first question
which the priest and
the Levite asked was:
"If I stop to help
this man, what will
happen to me?"
But the good Samaritan
reversed the question,
"If I do not stop to help
this man, what will
happen to him?"
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Following Christ’s example requires us to take on the form of a servant:

When the time came, he set aside the privilege of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human (Phil. 2:7)!

I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.

When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—

God has had it with the proud,
But takes delight in just plain people (1 Pet. 5:1–5).

J. Oswald Sanders said it well: “True greatness, true leadership, is achieved not by reducing men to one’s service but in giving oneself in selfless service to them.”[3]

“Serving” is the polar opposite of “self-serving.” Limited trust will flow to leaders and ministries who do not demonstrate serving in all they do. One of the greatest sources of power—other than from God Himself—is the trust that comes from faithfully serving others.[4]

 

  Questions   for reflection
 
  1. How would you describe your servant posture?
  2. How could you “improve your serve”?
  3. Thinking about the ministry you serve, how would you rate its level of servanthood?
  4. How could the ministry “improve its serve”?
 

[1] Les T. Csorba, Trust: The One Thing That Makes or Breaks a Leader (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 36.

[2] Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Experiencing God: How To Live the Full Adventure of Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994), 25–27.

[3] J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 2007), 13.

[4] Based on a quote by James O’Toole, Professor of Leadership Studies, University of Southern California. Published in How to Have the Best Employees by David Sirota, Douglas Klein, and David Russo (Upper Salle River, New Jersey: FT Press, 2014).

 

From TRUST: The Firm Foundation for Kingdom Fruitfulness, ECFAPress, 2015, www.ECFA.org/KnowledgeCenter.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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