A long time ago I was sitting in an office at the church building where I worked at the time. My boss, another minister, was just staring at me.
It wasn’t good.
I was wondering, “What did I do wrong this time?”
He pretty much spit out this next question: “Why do people LOVE you so much?”
I was stunned. Back then my self-esteem was so horrible I really had no idea anyone but my wife Laurie and our children loved me at all.
I really had to think about that.
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your SERVANT. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but TO SERVE, and to give His life a ransom for many.’” (Mark 10:42-45)
I find it interesting that the word “diakonos” is translated as “servant” in verse 43 in the New King James Version but the King James translates it as “minister”.
TO GOD, the word “minister” does not mean a person who seats himself higher than others on a stage or on an organizational chart or who demands to be treated with more respect or be catered to or served more than others.
The word “minister” means “an attendant; one who waits tables or does other menial tasks.”
Jesus said, “whoever desires to become great (“great” literally means “big” – I believe this has to do with having far reaching influence and NOT with “being important”) among you shall be your SERVANT”.
He said that even He came not to “be served but to serve”.
That word “serve” is the Greek word “diakoneo” – the verb form of the Greek word that means to “attend others like one who waits tables or does other menial tasks.”
So, when my boss asked me derisively, “Why do people LOVE you so much?” I thought about it and all I could come up with was this:
“You know, I didn’t know that people loved me. I dunno. All I know is that when someone needs something done I do it. When someone needs something heavy carried, I carry it. When someone needs a door held open, I do that. Maybe that’s it.”
I was blessed that the week after I was born again on a COLD October night in 1986 a man came though and did a series of teachings. I was so new in Christ and so eager to learn that I was at every one of his teachings.
Those became foundational to me.
One of his teachings was that Jesus was servant to all and He used Mark 10:42-45 as his text that evening.
One thing Jesus came for was to model for us what it looks like to be one of His people.
In other words, when we rose with Him to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4) some of that has to do with living in service to others…instead of selfishly….the way satan inspires humans to live in their flesh.
That message that night stuck with me.
I’m not writing this to impress anyone with what a “great servant I am” because, truly, I’ve dropped the ball on this so many times in my 32 years as a Christian.
However, I DO believe that one theme that DOES run through my life and, therefore, through the ministry I lead, is that I find myself doing something that I refer to as “looking for the need in others”.
Those I disciple have experienced this in me….and have been taught this by me.
I AM writing this today because it seems to me that throughout the Body of Christ we seem to have lost sight of this wonderful aspect of belonging to Jesus.
We all know that the earth has a field of gravity. Things are pulled downward by it.
In the same way, the world (the systems satan has superimposed over God’s beautiful intentions for people) has a gravitational pull of its own.
The Psalmist voices his intentions to focus on high:
“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)
Paul encourages the Colossians (and us) to focus on high:
“If (since) then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
But, satan wishes that the gravitational pull of the world would cause us to focus on things below. This is the devil’s hope for us all:
“For innumerable evils have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me.” (Psalm 40:12)
So, we allow satan and the world system to drag our focus downward. We obsess over what isn’t right in the world, over what we need, over what we crave to have and we lose sight of our identities in Christ as “ministers (SERVANTS!) of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
We stop being selfless and we, without realizing it, become SELFish.
We stop “looking for the need in others” because we can only focus on so much at one time and our focus becomes the things below.
So the result is that, even among God’s people, there seems to be a great lack of servanthood.
Now, I am aware that everywhere I have been there has always been people who serve others but I have seen that we Christians, to a great degree, relegate serving to organizations we call “ministries” as if it is the “job” of a handful of specially equipped individuals to do all the serving. We call them “para-Church ministries”, a concept that is completely absent from the New Testament Scriptures.
The word “para” means “next to”. Since all the people in so-called “para-Church ministries” ARE the Church how can the Church be “next to” the Church without seeming spiritually schizophrenic?
But the Bride of Christ, the Church, functions like this today – partly because we have lost sight of the reality that it is the birthright of EVERY Christian to function like Jesus did (and now DOES through yielded Christians!)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)
Brothers and sisters, let’s no longer allow the devil to steal our right to serve one another and also to serve the lost.
Let’s resolve to ask the Lord to release in us a burning desire to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 19:19).
As this article flowed out of me it seemed that I should give some practical hints to help us learn to serve others and, thus, do the works of God’s Kingdom. As is often the case, there is a foundational idea.
1. We must agree with God that in Christ all our needs are met.
“And my God shall supply ALL your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
If we do not receive this truth, everything we do to serve will be done for our own benefit and that is not “serving others” at all. It is SELF-serving and that is flesh and, therefore, is worthless.
2. We must know that “we” do nothing of any lasting value
unless what we do is really Christ working THROUGH us.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Jesus does these works through us.
“For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10)
3. We must understand and practice the truth that basic
Christianity has to do with building and living out
relationships with others with whom the Lord connects us.
This means that we allow ourselves to be established with the people with whom God intends to connect us and not necessarily “go shopping” for a “church home” (a term and concept that is nowhere to be found in God’s Word.)
God places us in the Body where HE sees fit.
“…from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love…” (Ephesians 4:16)
4. We must ask the Lord to give us eyes to see what needs to be
done, said, etc.
Moses speaks of God not giving people eyes to see:
“Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.” (Deuteronomy 29:4)
This leads me to believe that if we were to ask Him for that, He would grant it.
5. We must ask the Lord to reveal the needs of others.
God really knows what needs doing.
6. We must ask the Lord which of those to address.
I have learned it is not a good idea to assume that just because we see a need that we are to address it in the natural. Sometimes we see things and perceive things simply because the Lord would have us pray for the person. Sometimes they NEED it but are not READY for it.
God knows. So, let’s ask Him…every time.
7. Then we are to broach the subject with the person in need.
This is where the relationship comes in. If we have experienced life with another person and they have seen us living, we have a higher chance of being received by that person. This is because we are a part of that person’s life.
This optimizes the chance that they will not think they are some kind of “special project” for us and thus refuse God’s help through us because of their pride.
8. If we are received we address the need. If we are not received
we move on.
Jesus gave these instructions to the Twelve when He send them out and then did it again with the Seventy. (Mark 6:10-11; Luke 9:4-5; Luke 10:5-11)
9. Finally, We must always do these things with “no strings
“Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8b)
We are not aware of the strings we attach to things that we do…until we get upset when what we expected to happen doesn’t happen. That’s not “giving freely”.
I hope these ideas help.
How does this look in real life?
As we go about our everyday lives as husbands, wives, children, roommates, co-workers, fellow citizens who have a heart to manifest Jesus through serving one another we will see things that we can do that will make someone else’s day just a little better.
This might be something as simple as replacing a roll of toilet paper before it runs completely out or taking the garbage out for someone else.
It might be thinking about someone else’s day or week and providing some food for them. It might be offering to pump someone else’s gas for them, or noticing a lady with heavy packages in her grocery cart and offering to load them into her vehicle for her.
It might be smiling at someone who needs a smile.
It might be mowing someone else’s lawn or offering to help fix a car…even if you don’t know much about that.
Maybe it’s visiting someone in a long term care facility or hospital or giving someone a ride.
There is a literally limitless list of possible ways to serve other people.
Can you imagine what the Body of Christ would look like if we just served one another?
So much would be set back into order.
Can you imagine what would happen in the world if people saw us serving them with no expectation of getting anything in return?
Maybe more people would come to Jesus.
At any rate by living this way we will be walking, talking billboards for our Lord and will enjoy the refreshing satisfaction that comes with serving someone other than ourselves.
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mindlet each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4)
May this be our lifestyle: always looking to serve!