Have you ever thought what a great privilege it is to be a servant? In many cultures servants are looked down on as menial. In the upside down culture of the Kingdom of God servants are exalted! If you need proof just look at Phil 2 and see how Jesus is commended by the Father for coming to earth as a servant, or at Joseph who served faithfully in Potiphar’s house and then in prison (even in fetters and irons Ps 105:18) to the extent that those around him were blessed because God was with him. If we strive to be exalted we shall be rewarded only in this life. If we serve out of genuine humility it seems to please God and we can expect rewards in the next!
A new season
For many churches in the northern hemisphere this is the beginning of a new ‘year’. Families have had holidays and Schools and Universities begin their academic years, which brings many first time visitors to our churches. The programme of the church is fresh and full of vision for the next 12 months. What a time for people to re-discover the joys of serving!
Jesus – the Servant
Chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one of my favourite yet most challenging passages of the Bible. How can it be that Jesus, the Son of God, can willingly set aside his rightful place at the right hand of God to come and identify with us on earth, ‘taking the form of a servant’ (Phil 2:7)? It blows my mind! Yet, if servanthood is good enough for Jesus surely it is good enough for each of us. We are exhorted to be like-minded and ‘count others more significant than yourselves’ (Phil 2:3).
I have particularly worked with church administrators over the last 30 years and they, above all, are called to serve. They are there to ‘oil the wheels’, not to have high profile. Indeed, as I often said to teams I led, if people notice administration administrators have probably not done well. Administration is ‘behind the scenes’ and should be inconspicuous.
A few years ago I was leading a workshop on church administration in Nigeria. After some time of sharing the principles of Biblical Administration a leader stood and asked a question. ‘I agree with all that you have taught’ he stated ‘but what is to stop someone whom I appoint as an administrator taking half my people and starting a new church?’ This was outside my frame of reference! First, I would not expect someone with the primary gift of administration to want to lead a church and second I had a problem with this leader’s attitude. He appeared to want to do everything himself to make himself indispensible.
One of the primary roles of a good servant leader is to release people to fulfill their potential and to rejoice if they make themselves dispensable! This leader seemed to be striving for position.
In the next postings I want to look at some of the features of serving, learning from both Jesus’ and Joseph’s examples.