Tag Archives: service

The Cost of Servanthood

weekly theme #35*

week containing the Sunday between June 26 and July 2

A servant’s life revolves around the master.  The servant does not set aside an hour or few each week for work they want to do.  The life of the servant revolves around the master, and the servant’s life is secondary.  So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.” (Luke 14:33)  Yet there is love in this relationship between my master and me, The Lord.

Repeatedly I’ve been overwhelmed with doing good deeds and in nurturing relationships.  The tasks he assigns are too great for me, but that’s because he wants me to work with others and also depend on him.  He doesn’t think of me as just a servant but as his family.  He cares deeply for me, and he wants me to care deeply for him, not just the tasks I perform on his behalf.  My focus on him is more pleasing than my independent effort to do his work, and my reward is his presence, not completing a checklist.

My troubles, complaints, and sufferings are magnified when I serve with wrong motivations.  If the desire to serve is generated from love, it will endure because it produces shalom and my Master shares my yoke.  Service from fear or guilt does not endure; it saps my strength.  This perishable container that I feed, groom, and worry about miraculously contains the Spirit of God.  Though I physically die a little each day, I can spiritually be renewed, improved, and strengthened.  I would do well to focus on what I’m gaining, not on what I’m losing.

Even spiritual leaders are servants.  I have been arrogant enough to believe I could lead other s through strategy, persona, or organization.  How foolish that seems now.  God loves me, but does not need me.  He can accomplish his will without me, but graciously he offers me the opportunity to join him in what he is doing.  I have no cause for pride yet pride seems to be constantly lurking near me.  Pride creeps in when I choose to compare my strengths to other’s weaknesses.  This guarantees that I’ll be puffed up and dismissive of my own weaknesses.  There is no redemption in lopsided comparisons.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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The Son Of God

weekly theme #7*

week containing the first Sunday after Epiphany

Mark 1:22 says, “They were amazed at [Jesus’] teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority – quite unlike the teachers of the religious law.”  I think it was more than his style or method of teaching that impressed those who listened to Jesus.  I believe it also held a depth that was only possible because of his communication and confidence with Father as well as his knowledge of the life beyond death.  I believe eternity will be more marvelous than I can imagine, and one of the highlights will be peace in all the relationships there.

Jesus said that he could only do what he saw his Father do (John 5:19), and he gave huge quantities of time to the relationship with his Father.  (Luke 6:12, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:46-47)  He filled himself with what the Father modeled and that bore good fruit.  What fills me determines my beliefs, then my values, then my behavior, and ultimately the fruit I bear.  My fruit indicates my filling.

I’m sitting in a room with several chairs scattered about, and one chair sits alone in the middle – facing my direction.  I imagined Jesus sitting there and asked him how I can balance all the things that beckon for my focus.  In a patient voice he said, “Focus on me.”  I cannot focus whole-heartedly on more than one thing, and nothing is more worthy of my focus than Jesus.  Only he can save me, and just as importantly, only he can improve me.  My best effort at improvement is cooperating with the LORD.  Thinking that I improve myself leads to pride and judgment of others.  I put myself on a pedestal to look down at others.

My call should send me to my knees, not a pedestal.  Jesus has trusted me to do his work, and I can only do his work if he possesses me.  “He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope.  He will bring full justice to all who have been wronged.  He will not stop until truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth.”  (Isaiah 42:3-4a)  This is what Christ’s Body, the Church, is to do.  This is what I am to do.

When confronted by people who say, “Why doesn’t God do something?” I must honestly answer that he has.  He has empowered and commanded his followers to let him work through us, but we refuse to cooperate faithfully.  Honestly, I’m part of the problem when God designed me to be part of the solution.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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The Power Of Half

This book, by Hannah & Kevin Salwen, tells the story of a family who decided to “stop taking and start giving back”.  Spurred to “help people” by their teenage daughter, the family decided to make “giving” a family activity.  One event led to another until they decided to sell their home and give half the income away.  That’s when things get interesting, tense, and miraculous.

I really enjoyed watching the growth of the individuals, and the family as a group, as they learned how to give.  This family teaches, by their own mistakes, the value of giving wisely and for the long-term good of the people being served.  They are honest about their disappointments and frustrations.  They reveal how their motives changed from self-centered to other-centered – and how that process doesn’t always feel good.  But they also reveal the great reward of doing “charity” right.

And I must confess that I took special interest in their work within Ghana.  It was fun for me to recognize towns, foods, and events as they described their visit to that West African country.

I strongly recommend this book for family reading.  Who knows what your family may do as a result?

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Truth And Transformation

Truth And Transformation by Vishal Mangalwadi

I was unprepared for the incredible depth and breadth of this book.  I had never heard of the author, and that is to my loss.  Considered by some to be India’s foremost Christian intellectual, he attempted to serve the rural poor of India.  ”Service is the legitimate means of acquiring the power to lead.”  The results were violent opposition.  He turned to a study of the West and why India’s civilization lacked similar justice and prosperity.

His insights regarding the caste system’s foundation and fruit caused me to examine the current situation in the USA.  “Without God’s value system, humans have no intrinsic worth.  They are only worth what other human beings decide they are worth.”  Vishal shows that the USA is traveling on a questionable moral road.

I highly recommend this book to those of us who have been numbed by the slow but constant decline of USA values.  “Jesus changes the world by planting the Church in the midst of it.”

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” located in the left side-bar of this blog.

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Descending Into Greatness

Descending Into Greatness by Bill Hybels

I read this book in an effort to find humility, but I really found humility through a life “mishap”.  This book allowed me to build on it. 

By yielding my power to self-rule, I open myself to my God-designed destiny.  I discovered that the result of surrendering control is a lightened burden.  I was no longer responsible for results.   Descending is not so much who I am or what I have but what I do with both.  Who’s agenda shall I advance – God’s or mine?  The author provided wise counsel regarding the path to greatness.  It isn’t where I had been looking.  Following Christ is not a onetime decision.  It’s hundreds of decisions every day. 

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” located in the left side-bar of this blog.

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