THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
THINKING AND ACTING LIKE A SERVANT
When you think of your limitations in your life, you may think that, “God could never use me.” But God is never limited by our limitations. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” God enjoys putting His great power into fragile and weak people.
The world defines greatness in terms of power, prestige, possessions and position. Jesus however measures greatness in terms of service, not status. God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you. Everyone wants to lead, but no one wants to be a servant. Before you were a believer you were self-centered. But now, having the heart of a servant is most important.
Anyone can be a servant, all it requires is character. How do you know you have a servant’s heart? Matthew 7:16 says, “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Real servants are available to serve at any time. If you only serve when it is convenient, you are not a servant. Real servants do what’s needed, even if it is inconvenient.
Having time is all a matter of priority. Are you available to God anytime? Or do your worldly pursuits take priority? Can God mess up your plans without you becoming resentful? Being a servant means giving up the right to control your schedule and allowing God to interrupt it whenever He needs to. Servants see interruptions as divine appointments for ministry and are happy to serve.
Real servants pay attention to needs. When God puts someone in need in front of you, He is giving you the opportunity to grow in servanthood. We miss many occasions for serving because we lack sensitivity and spontaneity. Great opportunities to serve never last long. They pass quickly, sometimes never to return again. You may get only one chance to serve that person, so take advantage of the moment.
John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” Real servants do their best with what they have. Servants never say, “One of these days” or “When the time is right.” Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.”
Many people never serve because they fear they are not good enough. The truth is, almost everything we do when we first start doing it, is done poorly. But it doesn’t have to be perfect for God to use it and to bless it. The size of the task is irrelevant. The only issue is, does it need to be done? Galatians 6:3 says, “If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”
Jesus showed His greatness by humbly serving others, He washed feet and helped children, fixed breakfast and served lepers, because He came to serve. Nothing was beneath Him. It wasn’t in spite of His greatness that He did these things, but because of it, and He expects us to follow His example. John 13:15 says, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” The little things in life often determine the big things.
Luke 16:10-12 says, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?”
Servants finish their tasks, fulfill their responsibilities, keep their promises, and complete their commitments. They don’t leave a job half-done and they do not quit when they get discouraged. They are trustworthy and dependable. Often churches must improvise because volunteers didn’t show up and didn’t call to say they were not coming. There are many people who break their commitments without remorse.
God often tests us in our faithfulness. Your ministry matters to God. Even better, God has promised to reward your faithfulness in eternity. Matthew 25:23 says, “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’” Do you know that faithful servants never retire?
Servants do not call attention to themselves. This was the sin of the Pharisees, they did good to others so they would be praised by men. In Matthew 6:1, 4, Jesus warns us about that, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” Verse 4, “Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Notoriety means nothing to real servants because they know the difference between prominence and significance. The most significant service for God is often the service that is unseen. In heaven God is going to openly reward some of His most obscure and unknown servants. These might be people who taught emotionally disturbed children, cleaned up after incontinent elderly, nursed AIDS or Covid 19 patients, and served in unnoticed ways.
Remember Matthew 10:42, “And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” God is more interested in why we do something than in what we do. Servants think more about others than focusing on themselves. Romans 12:10 says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”
Unfortunately, a lot of our service is often self-serving. We serve to be admired or to achieve our goals. Some people try to use service as a bargaining tool with God. Real servants don’t try to use God for their purposes, they let God use them for His purposes. Thinking like a servant is difficult, because by nature we are selfish. That is why humility is a daily struggle, a lesson to be learned over and over.
To become a real servant you are going to have to settle the issue of money in your life. Luke 16:13 says, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money).” Living for ministry and living for money are mutually exclusive. As a servant all you time belongs to the Lord.
Wealth is certainly not a sin, but failing to use it for God’s glory is. More people are sidetracked from serving by materialism than by anything else. People say, “After I achieve my financial goals, I’m going to serve God.” That never happens and they are going to regret that for eternity. God uses money to test your faithfulness as a servant. How you manage your money affects how much God will bless you.
There are wealth builders and there are Kingdom builders. Wealth builders continue to amass wealth for themselves, no matter how much they make, but kingdom builders change the rules. They still try to make as much money as they can, but they do it in order to give it away. They use their wealth to fund God’s church and its mission efforts around the world. I encourage you to become a Kingdom builder.
If you serve like Jesus, you can expect to be criticized. The world does not understand what God values. Real servants don’t complain about unfairness, don’t have pity-parties and don’t resent criticism. Everything that is happening in the world is ultimately really a spiritual battle between those who do not believe God and hate God and those who have become believers. You can see that in society and education at every level.
But true servants base their identity in Christ. Only secure people can serve. When you base your worth and identity on your relationship to Christ, you are free from the expectations of others, and that allows you to really serve them the best. 2 Corinthians 10:18 says, “When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.”
A servant’s ministry is an opportunity, not an obligation. Why do they serve with gladness? Because they love the Lord, they are grateful for His grace, they know that serving is the highest use for life and they know that God has promised a reward. Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other believers, as you still do.”