Having The Heart Of A Servant

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”- Matthew 20:28.

It is not all that unusual to be driving along and encountering a person on the corner of the street holding a little cardboard sign. If you live in a city then you probably have seen people with cardboard signs on a regular basis. The fundamental question is what should we do when we pass by them on the street? 

The fact of the matter is that our hearts should break in compassion for those who are struggling. The Bible is also very clear about helping the poor. We are to have compassion for those who are suffering and show them grace. Proverbs 14:21 says, “It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor.”

Our calling is clear, we need to be gracious. But people with cardboard signs present us with a dilemma. How do we know that the person asking is actually in need? And how do we know if they will use our money the right way? Will they buy liquor or cigarettes?  If I give this person money will it help them for one day or will it help him or her at all? 

We sit in the car weighing the possibilities. Questions fog up our heads. We become conflicted by sometimes equal yet opposite views of the choices in what to do. We could give the person some money. But too often we often find ourselves torn and unable to make a choice. So we choose not to make a choice at all. In other words, our fear of doing the wrong thing stops us from doing anything, which precludes us from serving anyone at all.

We can serve others well when we actively decide to take on the role of a servant. When we study the life of Jesus, we find countless examples where He took on the role of the servant. From choosing to wash the feet of His disciples to the very decision of coming to earth and living as an ordinary human, Christ continually humbled himself for the sake of others and switched places with people in the lowliest of positions. If we want to be like Jesus, we need to remember that, in God’s eyes, everyone else is just as important as us.

By simply taking the position, what can I do today to serve, we’re opening ourselves up to a world of needs, not just the ones that are convenient or fit nicely into the time we’ve allotted to help. But the act of caring might not always require big, dramatic action. Caring for another person might mean going against what’s on the planned agenda or stopping to give a homeless man or woman a few dollars. The more time we spend examining what it means to serve others well, it comes down to having a servant’s heart. Serving others means seeing them as valuable and worthy to serve and be served, simply because God views them that way even if they are standing on a corner with a cardboard sign. 

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your definition of servanthood?
  2. What hurdles do you have serving others?
  3. What must you do, beginning today, to acquire an authentic heart of a servant?

What Kind Of Legacy Are You Leaving Behind?

“As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon: “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ – 1 Kings 2:1-4.

As we walk through life, we make an impression on the people around us–we leave footprints where we walk. The footprints that we make in life are our legacy. A legacy is inevitable. You will pass things down to the next generation. Even if you don’t have much materially to leave behind, you will instill character traits, talents, hobbies, skills, and more in your children and grandchildren. But how valuable will your legacy be? 

In 1 Kings 2:1-4, David is about to die.  Solomon was the son of David who would inherit the throne from his father. David’s life was marked by sin and poor decisions he made as a king. As he gets ready to pass the baton of leadership on to Solomon, he encourages his son not to make some of the same mistakes he had made. Despite his failures, David was still a man after God’s own heart. In this text, David passes on words of godly wisdom to his son. History would prove his words to be wise. David closes his final talk with his son by reminding him that if he does all of these things, he will prosper, and one of his descendants will always sit on the throne.

Nobody who leaves a great legacy lives a selfish life. Jesus told us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. The world preaches a different message, but if you understand your eternal inheritance, you will be more generous with your earthly inheritance. Your life will be about serving others with your time, talents, and treasures. He wants us to invest in others for His and their sake.

Be a blessing to others this week. Has a colleague confided that she feels overwhelmed and grieved by her current circumstances? Invite him for coffee and share where you find hope when life is hard. Do you have a friend who is wrestling with her faith? Be a safe space for her to talk through her struggles, gently guiding her to seek out our heavenly Father. Maybe a family member decided that church and God “just isn’t for them.” Prayerfully consider writing them a note of encouragement, letting them know they are always welcome in the Lord’s house.

The greatest legacy ever left on this earth started about two thousand years ago and still lives on today.  Jesus came to this earth and lived a life worthy of praise. His legacy brought freedom and redemption for all the generations to come. Your legacy can change lives, it can change the course of future events, and it can even change the world.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. What would you list as the characteristics of a lasting legacy?
  2. Read 2 Timothy 4:1-8: Spend a few minutes thinking about the legacy you would like to leave.
  3. What are some changes that need to take place today to move you back toward a legacy of loving God and loving others?

Serve Like Jesus

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.  – 1 Peter 4:10-11.

Some of you remember those World War II posters of a stern Uncle Sam pointing out at you and saying, “Uncle Sam wants you!” or “Your country needs you!” Many folks responded to that challenge, going to work or to fight for their country even though they knew it would mean personal sacrifice and change of priorities. They responded because they believed in the cause they were fighting for.

As Christians, we are challenged to discover that same kind of commitment to step up and serve God and the church.  Doing so contributes to a Home Run Life. I don’t want anybody to think I am not grateful and humbled by the hundreds of people (just like you) who have stepped up to share their time and talents on one of our incredible teams. We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers.

But, at least once a week somebody who attends Northstar tells me that I am doing a good job. While I appreciate the feedback and the support, I am concerned that many people believe it is permissible, even expected, to leave the work of the church to the pastor or church leaders. It is their job after all. That is what they are paid to do. And yes, things are going pretty well at Northstar as it is, so why change anything. Success sometimes can breed complacency. The wonderful things that God is doing at Northstar has made many people comfortable, but I wonder if some of us have been too comfortable for too long.

Here is my point. The mission of our church is too important to leave to everyone else. The moment you begin to believe that our church can be healthy while you sit on the sidelines, you have forgotten that God has a plan for you. And to accomplish His plan, God made you to be exactly who you are, and His Spirit has empowered you with unique spiritual abilities, or “gifts.” God placed you in your unique situation because He wants you to minister to and with the other Christians He has placed around you. Paul’s vision for the church included every Christian: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15–16)

The goal of the church is to grow up in every way into the likeness of Christ. But the church will never reach this goal unless “each part is working properly.” This doesn’t mean that we will all function in exactly the same way, but it does mean that we all have a responsibility. Together, we function as one body. Until every person in our church is actively ministering to the people around us, people in our area won’t experience what the church was created to be.

Now I understand that we have plenty of people who serve outside the walls during the week. This is not an indictment against those who are serving somewhere, rather an encouragement to those who aren’t serving anywhere. If you are one who tends to sit back and let everyone else meet the volunteer needs of the church, I ask that you pray about where you too can be used.

If you’re not serving, it’s never too late to start. Look at the things that you have a natural talent for. What are your skills? Are you an organized person? Are you great with numbers? Do you have an ear for sound? Your gifts and skill sets – whether they’re hobbies or vocational – can be used to serve Northstar. What is your passion? Do you love kids? Love talking to people? Love one-on-one discipleship? The things that make your heart beat a little faster can be used for ministry. Pray about filling an area of need? We have a number of need areas: Babies that need to be rocked. Cars that need to be parked. Coffee that needs to be served.

I encourage you to jump in and see how life change happens through the simple act of serving others. Don’t underestimate the blessing that you can be if you will lay aside your fears and inhibitions and allow God to use you. Most people are not going to criticize genuine works of love, even if not done perfectly. And as you begin to serve in small ways, you will begin to be more confident and see more ways that you can practically serve others.

If you attend Northstar, talk to your Campus Pastor today (or shoot him an email) and tell them you are ready to get started. The whoosh you hear will be him leaping on the opportunity.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to serve God? Is it a position, a role, or a mindset?
  2. Whose responsibility is it to serve people that are in need?
  3. Read what Jesus had to say about being a servant in this context in Luke 17:7-10. How does this show us how Christ wants His followers to serve? How does that compare with how we view service?
  4. How do Christ’s beatitudes about Christian service, particularly in Matthew 5:40-41, reveal the type of service Christ is looking for? Why do you think most Christians find it hard to serve in this way?
  5. Pray and ask God to direct you in where to serve in the church.