Confused? The title needs an explanation. I was reading a church blog when the following line jumped out at me: “The trouble with him is he’s a thermometer and not a thermostat!” The person being quoted explained that a thermometer doesn’t change anything around it—it just registers the temperature. It’s always going up and down. But a thermostat regulates the surroundings and changes them when they need to be changed.”

Well, it is safe to say that The Apostle Paul was a thermostat. Instead of changing with the spiritual hills and valleys, he went right on, steadily doing his work and serving Christ. And serving Christ meant serving others. “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus…(Philippians 1:1) “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ…” (Titus 1:1)

If you want to be a thermostat, and not a thermometer, and if you want to eliminate pride, you have to love people and serve them. Serving is a core value of Northstar. Though our gifts differ, each one is needed and is multiplied when used for the common good. Some are called within the church family as teachers, and leaders, while others are uniquely gifted to reach out in missions beyond the church walls. This is not a formal process. People serve when they receive a gentle nudge from God.

Most people equate serving with church and Sundays. But in reality, serving is a 24/7/365 duty. There are many opportunities to serve God in both large and small ways outside the church and on other days than Sunday.  Serving is not always convenient and doesn’t always fit our own timetable. We are asked to serve even when our schedule is full. Even when we want to quit. Even when our heart is breaking.

And we don’t receive a pay check for our efforts either. We don’t see an immediate return for our service. The pay check—the appreciation—comes from Jesus Christ. We are serving Him. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Jesus said in Luke 22:27: “…But I am among you as one who serves.”

Jesus did not come to be served—but to serve. He served to the uttermost, just as He loved to the uttermost. Anything that needed to be done for another, He did as naturally and as simply as He breathed. He loved people, and was interested in them, and was ready always to be helpful to them. It never mattered what the service was, whether it was the saving of a soul, the curing of a seemingly incurable sickness, or the giving of a cup of water—He did the most humble with the same grace as greatest.

If being a thermostat is changing the environment, nobody changed the world as Jesus did when He walked this world or today 2,000 years later. And He changed the world by being a servant all the way to the cross.

Discussion questions:
1. What is Paul’s warning to us in Philippians 2:3-5?
2. Can you be a leader and a servant?
3. In what areas are you serving the Body of Christ? What drew you to serve in these areas? Describe the feelings you experience when serving in these areas? What motivates you to continue serving?
4. What must you do, beginning today, to acquire an authentic heart of a servant?
5. Following the example of the Savior, believers are to function as servants who seek to minister to one another in loving and selfless service. Are you, in submission to the Lord and to others, seeking to serve, or are you seeking to be served in the pursuit of your wants? Pray and seek God’s help on becoming a servant.