The Value of Servanthood

The Value of Servanthood

by Jerry Nance PhD, President, Global Teen Challenge

This month I want us to look once again at one of the values, so critical to Teen Challenge which we embrace in this ministry. As I think back over the years, I am reminded of so many on our team who exhibit the spirit and value of servanthood. I am reminded of men and women who are just wonderful people who never consider the question, “What’s in it for me?” They just serve to the good of

others first, and the good of the ministry. WOW! God grant us all hearts of servants.

I continue to herald the idea that we can do more than I can, any day. We are a team of committed men and women whom God has called out to serve the thousands of men, women, boys, and girls who walk through our doors each year. The ministry and value of servanthood is critical to the future of any organization. Just think, if all of those individuals who have servant hearts leave us, where would we be; where would you be? That’s a scary thought to me. We so depend on those with servant hearts to keep the culture of this organization true to the heart of God and focused on serving those in need. May God grant us the grace to appreciate the servants around us, and may we ourselves strive to live out the value of servanthood.

I want to draw your attention to a teaching that John Maxwell, one of our Global Advisory Board members, wrote on this subject. He takes us to John 1:41-42.

“Today we’re going to look at a person who showed such a servant’s heart. What a biblical model we find in the life of Andrew. I begin to think about somebody who was a servant, who did ministry, but not up front. Somebody who didn’t sing the solo, didn’t preach the message, but just did ministry week in and week out. I look at the life of Andrew, and I begin to get inspired. There are three things out of his life that I want to draw upon. In John 1 we are introduced not only to Andrew, but also to the kind of person he was, the kind that made the disciples of Jesus great...the kind that makes a ministry great.”

The Example of Andrew...

Andrew’s ministry was characterized by three significant insights the others didn’t seem to grasp.

1. The value of people.
Everywhere you find Andrew in the Gospels, you find someone pouring his life into someone else’s.

John 1:41-42 gives us a good sense of Andrew and his effectiveness for the kingdom. The first thing he did was to find his brother and tell him he had found the Messiah. Here’s a beautiful example of Andrew, behind the scenes, going out and getting his brother, and bringing him to Jesus.

Remember the time when the Greeks wanted to see Jesus, and they came to Philip? They recognized Philip as one of the disciples, and they came to him because he was Greek. The first thing that Philip did, instead of taking the Greeks to see Jesus, was to find Andrew. And

Andrew took the Greeks to see Jesus. Andrew was always finding people. He was always

pouring his life into people, because he understood the value of the individual.

Five principles for individual people helpers.....

  1. Character is more important than gifts. What we are and who we are is

more important than what we do.

Being godly is more important than being right. Many people have many different opinions, but God wants us to live righteously.

Love is more important than good works. Loving the people of God is more important than anything we have.

You cannot lose by being a learner. If you keep having a servant’s attitude and have a spirit of learning, you’ll always grow.

There is always room for one more servant.

2. The value of invisible service.
Behind-the-scenes ministry really is where servanthood begins. Picture with me for just a moment the story that we’ve looked at in John chapter one:

The day he brought Pete to Jesus, Andrew understood that he would never be one of the top disciples. These two boys grew up together. Peter was the charismatic individual, the leader, the strong one. When the two of them went anywhere, Peter was the one everybody noticed and everybody followed.

Andrew, growing up, no doubt lived in the shadow of his brother. And now he’s bringing him to Jesus. He’s basically saying, “The moment that I introduce him to Jesus, I know that I’ll never be one of the top disciples, never be in the inner circle. I know Jesus will see Peter’s leadership ability, and immediately take him, and I will kind of fall back into the ranks of the other disciples.”

But what a heart for God! Basically he says, “It’s okay. I don’t have to be up front. I don’t have to be in the inner circle. I don’t have to sing the solo, or preach the message, or teach the lesson. It’s okay if others don’t see me.” The people who have the ability and the willingness to do ministry in the background, unlike some of us who are in front all the time, getting the praise and the pats on the back, are doing just the gritty day-in, day-out background ministry and displaying a servant’s heart. Their motives are pure. They’re doing it for God because they love Him, not for applause, recognition, or the praise of others. Jesus said the way to greatness is servanthood. Washing the disciples’ feet.

At the funeral of Dawson Trotman, that great founder of the Navigators, a pastor from Taiwan said, “I’ll tell you what I remember Dawson Trotman for; in Taiwan together, we took a hike one day when it was very muddy. We came back that evening extremely tired and fell into bed. The next morning when I woke up, my shoes were washed and shined. Dawson Trotman had gotten up early.” A servant’s heart.

A lady by the name of Ruth Caulkin says it all in a little bit of poetry called “I Wonder.” “You know, Lord, how I serve you with great emotional fervor in the limelight. You know how eagerly I speak for you at the Women’ Club, and you know how I effervesce when I promote a fellowship group. And you know how I love to teach a Bible study. But how would I react, I wonder, if you pointed me to a basin of water and asked me to wash the calloused feet of a bent and wrinkled old woman, day after day and month after month, in a room where nobody saw, in a room where nobody knew.”

In Mathew 20, the mother of James and John went to Jesus and asked that they have favored positions in His kingdom. She’s saying, “They’re certainly with the right person. Now I want to see if I can get them into the seats of honor...at the head table.” Jesus said, “You know the foreign rulers like to order their people around, and the great leaders have full power over everyone they rule. We can’t act like them. If you want to be great, you must be a servant of all the others; and if you want to be first, you must be a slave of the rest. The Son of Man did not become a slave master, but a slave who will give His life to rescue many people.” Faithful over a few things...rule over many things – that’s what He was talking about.

I think that Andrew can teach all of us to take God and His kingdom seriously, to find what our gifts are, to be who we are and to uniquely use those gifts right where we are.

3. The value of insignificant gifts.
Remember the five thousand? Andrew knows how to find the little things that’ll make a difference, because Andrew finds the boy in the crowd. A few loaves, a few fish; you know the story.

A friend of mine was mowing his lawn, trying to get done by dinner, so he was pushing pretty fast. Then his six-year-old, Mikey, came out and said, “Dad, I want to help.” So Mikey got behind the lawn mower. Of course he couldn’t push it very well. So Dad put his big hands on the outside, and then he’s straddling his little boy and walking and mowing the grass like this. Of course it’s much slower now than it was before. But Mikey’s helping him.

My friend said, “All of a sudden I started to smile, because spiritually that’s probably how I help God in His kingdom.” One day, I’m going to say, “God, I don’t even understand why You partner with us. If my son had died on the cross, I wouldn’t have used John Maxwell.”

The most amazing thing to me is that God, in His incredible love for us and His incredible omnipotence and omniscience, is walking around His kingdom, with us helping Him.

It’s not that I’m so valuable to the kingdom that God can’t make it without me – He doesn’t hold His breath every time I get on a plane and hope I make it; nah, if I drop down sometimes, His kingdom will go on. He wants to partner with me because He wants me to grow closer to Him. It’s for me. I mean, He’s the senior partner, and I’m the junior partner. It’s for my growth. So many times we think, “Well, I’m doing this for the church. I’m doing this for God.” No, no, no. You see, you grow three ways. You grow through the Word of God. You grow through the fellowship of saints, and you grow through the ministry. And some of you, bless your hearts, are lopsided in your growth. You’re growing potlucks and fellowship lunches. And you’re good on pew potatoes, but you flunk ministry. Now, that’s just a thought.

Billy Graham told a story about an 80-year-old blind lady who was talking to God; “God, you know I served you all my life. Take me home.” And God said, “No, I’ve got some ministry for you to do.” One day she realized that she had a Braille telephone directory. From that day on, starting with the A’s, she started calling people on the phone every day and witnessed to many people for nine years. At 89, this blind lady, who just used the phone to call people, had led over 3,000 people to Jesus. Here I am with a complete set of faculties, and I’m sitting back saying, “Is there anything I can ever do for God?”

Ten truths about ministry:

  1. The foundation of ministry is character.
  2. The nature of ministry is service.
  3. The motive of ministry is love.
  4. The measure of ministry is sacrifice.
  5. The authority of ministry is submission.
  6. The purpose of ministry is the glory of God.
  7. The tools of ministry are the Word of God and prayer.
  8. The privilege of ministry is growth.
  9. The power of ministry is the Holy Spirit.
  10. The model for this ministry is Jesus Christ.

John has shared some great truths on servants. I pray we can learn from this message and continue to strive to serve as Andrew did, with no hidden agendas or self-serving motives. May God grant us the grace to simply serve.

Source: Leadership Link June 2014

 

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