The Servant Leadership Example of Jesus

For each Faith Elder meeting over the last several months we have devoted time for teaching from a book on “servant leadership”.  A book that features Jesus himself modeling various aspects of leadership while he walked on this earth. The deacon board and church staff are also doing the same and as with the elders, each deacon and staff member take their “teaching turn” on different weeks.
 
It has been a super good lesson and reminded me of two important truths. The first is that study has to be intentional by spending time in God’s word to really know him, and the second is the importance of prayer and discussion with like minded brothers and sisters in the Lord. Both are required for growth in relationship with the Lord and with each other – especially in times of turmoil and distraction.    

The “servant leadership” teaching focused on one’s heart, head, hands and behaviors. It was helpful to see how Jesus focused on these areas of teaching and application with His disciples in the gospels. The focus scriptures in each meeting were those with which we were all familiar, but this teaching helped to draw out the deeper purpose of what Jesus was doing. These were applications not just for servant leadership in and around the church (body of believers) but in all areas including jobs, neighborhoods and families. Jesus is our perfect example!

The Heart

The heart was the first topic of teaching since it is the center of one’s being as is stated many times in scripture. Heart change is what moves a person from what is inherently a self-serving lifestyle to a serving lifestyle out of thankfulness for what Jesus has done for us.  It is what drives one’s motivation and intent to lead by serving. It very simply is giving instead of getting.
   

The Head

After the critically important element of the heart, the head comes into play to shape our belief system and perspectives. It is the renewing of our minds by being transformed from the inside out and no longer conforming (or desiring to conform) to the things of this world (Romans 12:2).
 

The Hands

Once the heart and head are engaged correctly, the work of the hands follow since the actions are now aligned with and becomes one’s behaviors.  With the heart, head, and hands working together, it can now be about the “being” of relationship and serving out of thankfulness and not just about the “doing” of the work. 
 

The Habits

The habits in which one seeks to engage was the last area of servant leadership development that is super important to ensure positive and helpful disciplines are maintained. The battle of getting and doing for self (the wrong reason) instead of giving for the Lord can often lead us the wrong direction.  Godly habits that involve solitude, prayer, and scripture meditation – all of which Jesus practiced often throughout his life on this earth – are the example He left us to follow to keep us moving in the right direction.
 
Reading this material may make servant leadership seem fairly simple, but as with many things the application can be challenging. Remember, it took a while for the disciples to get it even though Jesus was the best teacher ever and modeled it perfectly. That said, we can be sure Jesus will be patient with us too as we seek to live the greatest commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” as we seek to become all God created us to be. 
 
Author:
Elder, Faith Assembly 

 

 

 

 

 


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Called to be Servants

Have you noticed how affectionately the followers of Jesus were described in the Bible? Many warm names were used to describe God’s children, here are just a few: brothers and sisters, children, believers, disciples, the elect (I like that one), sons and daughters, and one of my favorites – SERVANT.
 
Sadly, many don’t appear to appreciate or have the desire to accept the role of someone who serves. I have to admit; how I act, what I think, what I talk about, and many times the content of my prayers center around my needs and wants – not someone else’s.

Jesus lived and taught something different to those around Him. He gave His life so we could experience freedom from sin and have eternal life with Him, quite the act of a servant. For us salvation not only includes forgiveness and eternal life, it also means taking on the character of Christ and becoming servants of the Father.

This, however, is not the way it shall be among you.  If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of the others – like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life to redeem many people.  Matt 20:26-28 (GNT)

 

Even though Christ had a huge following, He didn’t look for power, status, or admiration. He came to serve, and He never lost sight of that during His time on earth. The Bible tells us Jesus is our example. It also tells us He was equal to God but humbled Himself to become a man. Just like Jesus, we are one with the Father. Add to that the truth of how we are made in God’s image. It seems reasonable then that serving is a part of our new nature and make-up.

God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus He has created us for a life of good deeds, which He has already prepared for us to do. Eph 2:10 (GNT)

If we struggle with the idea of serving others and are honest with ourselves, it looks like the only thing that stands between us being who God designed us to be and who we are today is… ourselves.

 

Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. John 12:25 (MSG)
 
Without a doubt, the Father will honor our hearts and actions when we move from concentrating on ourselves to focusing on how each of us can help a hurting world. Jesus is our Savior AND the Lord of our life. We have one purpose and that is to be His servant to glorify Him.
 

What might be the result of giving ourselves to a life of service as our Savior did? I think it’s this: when we, the body of Christ, share His love and give of ourselves to others, we give God an open door, through us, to affect the world in an amazing way.

 

As for you, my friends, you were called to be free.  But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you. Instead, let love make you serve one another. For the whole Law is summed up on one commandment; ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself’. Galatians 5: 13-14 (GNT)
 
This topic is near and dear to my heart so I could go on, but I’ll leave you with a few thoughts to ponder instead.
 
From My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers:

If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measure it, but only by what God pours through it — and we cannot measure that at all.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 1 Corinthians 9:19 (ESV)

 
Servanthood has an eternal impact on lives. It willingly involves itself in the needs of others as the Holy Spirit leads us, leaving God to work the results. God is asking us if we are willing to do a servant’s work for Him. What is He calling you to do today?
 
Author:
Church Development

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Holiday Blues

The holidays are viewed by most as a time of happiness and rejoicing, but for others it can be a time of painful memories, sadness, loneliness, anxiety and depression. Usually these feelings of sadness are often referred to as the holiday blues and come around the months of November and December. While the holiday blues is not an officially recognized psychiatric condition, it does not mean that the feelings it can produce should be ignored. These feelings can have a major impact on we function each day. 
 

Even people who love the holidays can have having the holiday blues during this busy time of year. The demands and high emotions can leave a lot of us feeling stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted.

 

How should a Christian handle the holiday blues? Let’s face it, just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we are immune to sad feelings, anxiety, loneliness, and the list goes on. Jesus tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us, but This doesn’t mean life is going to always be easy. Jesus knows what we are going through because He himself has experienced life as a man who walked this earth. 

So, here are a few practical tips to help us handle the holiday blues together.

  1. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant and can exacerbate any negative feelings you might have. No, this isn’t a platform to promote or condemn drinking alcohol. But, many people like to have drink. As Christians we cannot rely on alcohol to deal with life’s tough days and hard times. We must rely on Christ and the strength he provides. Psalm 59:17 says You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.
  2. Don’t isolate yourself. Sadness often makes us want hide by ourselves at home. Some may live away from family and feel like they have no one to connect with. Push yourself to become socially connected by serving in your church or volunteering your time for those in need. When we focus on serving other our sad feelings can slowly fade away. 1 Peter 4:10 says Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
  3. Try to exercise regularly. While it can be difficult to stick to a workout schedule when you are feeling down, research has shown that regular physical activity can play an important role in preventing and reducing symptoms of depression. We are to be good stewards of the body that God has given us.
  4. Set limits and have realistic expectations. You can avoid overcommitting by knowing your limits and learning how to say no. That doesn’t mean that you should say “no” to everything, but make sure that you leave enough time for yourself to relax and enjoy the season.

These tips focus a lot on the individual and they are all important. the most important, final tip however, is to fix our eyes on jesus.

 
We must be intentional in spending quality time with him. In our prayer time, our devotion time and our time when we are experience Jesus together as a body of believers. If we are not being intentional in those three areas then it is almost inevitable the holiday blues will catch up with us.
 

This holiday season, offer yourself to Jesus as a fresh offering. Your time, your focus, your conversations, your worship, your body, your health, your family, your thoughts and every part of your being. Jesus is our king and he deserves our praise. Practice a lifestyle that revolves around Jesus, making him the center.

 
Listen to Casting Crowns “Christmas Offering” and make it your prayer this holiday season.
 

Click for video

Author: 
Worship leader, Faith Assembly

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Raising Up the Next Generation for Ministry

For 20 years, I have had the privilege to work at one of the nation’s premier science laboratories owned by the Department of Energy.
 
This laboratory is now over 50 years old – and for those of you in the building and utility business – you know 50 years is about how long these systems last without major reinvestment. I am amazed every day with the physical actions that a very dedicated work force conducts to keep the old place up and running. Actions that not many people know about and most take for granted and so much so, we don’t plan as well as we should to prepare for replacing a seasoned workforce just a few years from retirement.

Again today, as I was hearing about two major waterline breaks and a site wide problem with our building security system, I thought about the parallels in the spiritual world and how critical even urgent it is to grow up the next generation here too.

 
Bringing this a little closer to home at our church – Faith Assembly – there are countless people I call spiritual giants, operating as prayer warriors and servant leaders in any number of our ministries and meeting needs (some of which not many people even know about). Several of these people are retirees, near retirees, and others in the midst busy lives. They serve with a happy heart for the Lord and for the local church body. Importantly, they are mentors and models seeking to raise up the next generation to serve after them and in their footsteps.
 

Without raising up the next generation at our places of employment and churches, how will these places be sustained to not just survive but to thrive?

2 Corinthians 9:12
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
Ephesians 4:12
…to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
 
If there is no next generation, who will be there to know how to repair the next waterline? In the local body, who will be there to pray and serve in the various ministries God has given us?
 
  • If you are one of our more seasoned spiritual giants, I thank God for you. Keep going.

 

  • If you are a more seasoned person without a specific ministry focus, I also thank God for you and submit it’s never too late to serve in whatever way God calls you. Get involved. There is no retirement in the Kingdom of God.

 

  • If you are one of the not-so-seasoned currently serving the body, I thank God for you and your willingness to be mentored as the next generation. Keep learning, serving and growing. God is using you for to reflect his glory.

 

  • If you are one of the not-so-seasoned not currently serving the body, I also thank God for you and submit that the body needs you. God knows whom He will call; so please be in prayer as to how He wants to use you and be open to His prompting. You will find community, growth, and God will use you for His glory.
Revelation 2:19
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
 
Over the past 23 years of my service for the Kingdom and my observation of others in service over this same period, I have found time and time again that God is faithful and His promises are true – He equips those He calls! God bless you as you serve.
 
Author:
Elder 

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Listening to God’s Call

The calling the Lord puts on your life – what is it?

 
I’m not talking about when you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. I’m talking about the calling that God puts on your life after that to further His kingdom.
I’m not sure I took this part of my walk in the Lord seriously enough early in my walk. When I first became a Christ-follower, I needed time to mature by reading the bible, praying, and just falling deeper in love with the Lord.
 
Still, when you embrace a love relationship with Jesus, His calling is already there waiting for you to live it out. At some point in our walk, we need pray that the Holy Spirit will show us what the Lord has for us to do through ministry in the Kingdom. The important part here is that the Holy Spirit – and your heart – are in line with His calling, then to obey and follow through with what the Lord has called you to do.
 
God’s calling for you could be serving in the church in some way, a ministry in your community, your neighbors and a multitude of more ways. There is no limit to what the Lord can call a child of His to do, and it is often a combination of areas. Remember though, the calling is to glorify God.
I love how the following scriptures call us to ministry:
Philippians 3:14
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
 
John 15:15
We did not choose Him, He choose us and appointed us to go out and bear fruit and it should abide (accept or act in accordance with this appointment).
 
Ephesians 4:4
There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.
 
I Peter 2:21 (our example)
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His footsteps.
 
When we talk about a “calling”, it can be kind of scary. However, in big ways and small, His Word lays out what His will is for our lives. Sometimes we make it too complicated. It’s really quite simple: God wants a servant’s heart willing to do what He asks, when He asks it, according to His will and guidance laid out in His Word. What has the Lord called you to do?
 
Author: 

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Defensiveness and Denial – The Two Issues of Cain – Part 2

The last time we visited the story of Cain, we looked at his issues with denial – and his refusal to acknowledge responsibility in his relationship with his brother. Today, let’s examine how denial played an even larger role in his relationship with God in Genesis 4:1 – 24.

The story opens with a brief introduction of the main characters – Cain and Abel – the two sons of Adam and Eve. When the boys become men, it’s time for them to take responsibility for their own relationships with God.

In time, they both offer sacrifices to God in worship from the fruit of their own labors. The next thing we know, God has accepted Abel’s offering of animal sacrifice but rejected Cain’s offering of grain. Cain responds to the rejection with anger and despondency. Later, he lures his brother out into a field to talk about it. In a moment of rage he strikes him, killing him.

I used to struggle just a bit with a small sense of injustice for Cain’s sake. How was he supposed to know God didn’t want an offering of vegetables? After all, God instituted a grain offering years later through Moses (Leviticus 2:1 – 15). Besides, this came from him and what he was good at doing. It kind of feels like the parent who doesn’t accept a small child’s art project because it wasn’t good enough.

Thing is, Cain knew exactly what he was doing. He was worshiping God on his own terms without care or concern for how God would feel about it. That’s not a healthy relationship. Let me explain…

 

The expulsion from Eden would have been far more devastating for his parents than we might think. The exclamation point of watching two animals get slaughtered to cover the nakedness of their lives after sin might have been far more personal than we realize… they weren’t likely just farm animals.

God’s covenantal relationship with them was established and sealed with blood, and Cain would have known the story all too well. For Cain, worshiping God on his own terms carries at least some similar characteristics to his parent’s sin. Cain wanted to be in control of the terms of the relationship rather than submitted to the expectations of someone else (God) like his brother, Abel.

Taking control places him beside God, which is similar to the enemy’s sin as well.

Even then, in a moment of mercy, God beckons Cain to see where he is, and to reach out in trust to Him when He says, “7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 NIV)

Denial keeps us from recognizing where we truly are by keeping us focused on only ourselves… our rights… our own version of justice or fairness. It keeps us from hearing the heart of someone else and finding the path to wholeness. Whenever that happens, both people are robbed of life. Often times, those effects play out in the lives of others in the vicinity.

 

Take a moment and ask yourself if you’re trying to be in control.

It may help you realize whether you’re in denial in your relationship with God and/or someone else in your life.

God was indeed reaching back to Cain. If only he had noticed God’s compassion before he crossed a line that stole Abel’s life… a theft that affected his parents, himself and all the members of the family he was about to have.

God is indeed reaching to you. Reach back to Him and let Him walk with you to restoration.
 
Author:
Faith Assembly

 


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