Chapter 22: Servants
About 700 years before Jesus was born, an amazing prophet named Isaiah lived in Israel. God gave Isaiah many prophecies about Jesus.
One of the titles for Jesus appears in Isaiah 42. God said, “Look at my servant – He is my chosen one.” (42:1)
So Jesus is the “chosen servant”. We know Jesus is God, yet the Father chose him to be a servant. What can be more amazing? If God is willing to serve so should we.
It is an honour to be a servant alongside Jesus. Just as a farmer uses a yoke to harness two oxen or buffalo together, Jesus invites us to get into a yoke with him. When you have accepted Jesus, he does not ask you to serve alone.
Hear Jesus’ words on the next page:
“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden you share with me is light. Matthew 11:29-30 NLT
Isaiah learns more about Jesus. “I have put my Spirit upon him,” God says.
Isaiah 42:1b NLT
The Holy Spirit walking with Jesus strengthened his desire to serve. When we accept Jesus, we naturally find we have a desire to serve.
We ask, “How do I find where I should serve?” We are all surrounded with needs. Many we cannot afford but there are many that cost us nothing other than time.
Let’s just open our eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us. As Christians, serving others brings us great joy and satisfaction. This pleases God which only adds to our joy.
In God’s kingdom, the way up is down. If you are embarrassed to serve in some simple way, God will not lift you up to do greater tasks.
So imitate Jesus: he did the job of a slave by washing his disciples feet. He then said,
“You call me Teacher and Lord. You are right, for that is what I am. If I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet.” John 13:13-14 ESV
We have made feet washing into a ceremony, but Jesus had in mind a lot more than that.
Jesus simply did the normal job of a slave: to wash the guests feet when they came in from the dirty village streets. In the upper room with his disciples there were no slaves.
Jesus took on the task of washing the disciples. He modelled that there is not any of us too high or mighty to do the ordinary tasks that are a part of every day. Jesus Christ led the way, showing us how to serve.
How might we serve today? Who might we serve today?
In the words of the writer of Hebrews, “Now may the God of peace… may He equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” Hebrews 13:20a -21 NLT
Those who study and teach leadership have found that leading is much more than having a role and a title or position, true leadership is the influence created when we serve others and build others into the people they can become.
In fact, we find this guideline for the work of leadership:
- 40% of the job is building TRUST
- 30% is paying attention to the NEEDS of the people
- 20% is the IDEAS
- 10% is next STEPS
This means that 70% of the job of leaders is building relationships and attending to people. Then, and only then, are our ideas and the steps required to implement those ideas able to be accomplished.
The people we work with and those we serve must know that we are FOR them. If we are not for others, then people will sense that we are using them for our own purposes and they will reject our leadership, this is only normal and right.
Yet often we take the easy way out. We take on a position and then order people to do this or that, we come into a role and then begin telling people how to live their lives. If the people don’t know any better, this will work for a time. Yet it will ultimately fail.
For, when we do not pay attention to the very people we are to be in service to, we destroy any trust that might be there and without trust we are not leaders. All leadership is built on trust. This cannot be stated too strongly.
As leaders we are stewards of people. We are called to build them.
When Jesus said to build his church, he was not talking about a building or programs, he was talking about building people. And this requires that we hold our stewardship responsibility with great care and respect. We are called to serve, to lift up, to encourage, to build the people entrusted to us.
This week pay attention to the people in your life and ministry and discern if they trust you or not. For each person, your spouse, your children, your colleagues, your congregation, determine their level of trust in you.
For instance, we can use a continuum to see this clearly, with a low 1. of trust on the left hand side, and a high 10. of trust on the right hand side (on the next page):
Use a simple line to show a continuum of trust, from a low 1. on the left side, to a high 10. on the right side, mark on the line each person that you are in relationship with. Begin with your family and those closest to you, then consider each person in your congregation, next think about those in your community and neighbourhood.
- Where is each person in relationship to you in terms of trust?
- Do people trust you?
This is a critical survey to take. It is important to know if others trust you or not. For if there is a deficit in trust then all your other plans and the things you undertake will not bear fruit. Trust is the basis for all things and this is particularly true of ministry. You cannot afford to ignore the levels of trust between yourself and others.
1. For this application, simply take the time to think through all of your relationships and to mark for yourself where you think each is in terms of trust; use a continuum to plot each relationship on the line between a low 1. and a high 10.
2. If your trust level with people is very low, then go to the Lord in prayer and confess that you have been violating people’s trust. Take responsibility for this and ask the Lord to help you rebuild trust.
NOTE: We will talk more about building trust, and I will give practical guidelines for doing this as this course progresses. But first, for today, just take a good look at your relationships and see where you truly stand in your family, in ministry, and in your community.
Summary – servants
We serve out of the strength of being yoked with Christ. Matthew 11:29-30
‘How can we serve others?’ is a question to ask at all times. John 13: 13-14
God will strengthen us as we serve others. Hebrews 13:20-21