Friday, January 04, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about servanthood lately. What does it mean, biblically, to serve others? I'm not as interested in the Greek definition as in the practical outworking - what does it look like to be a servant to believers, to unbelievers, to my family, to you?

There's certainly not a lack of Biblical teaching and examples on the subject. The words "Serve" and "Servant" occur literally hundreds of times. Jesus' teaching is permeated with the concept - "The greatest among you is the one who serves" fell from His lips; He took the towel and knelt to wash feet to prove it. Serving is the very heart of what "ministry" is all about, the very meaning of the word we use to get "deacons".

But it's in the practical outworking of servanthood that I turn up questions. When does serving becoming enabling? How do I serve someone who rejects me? When faced with a myriad of directions that all involve service, which one do I choose?

I know you face these questions far more than I do. That's why I want to encourage you tonight that the only way I've found to work out these answers is in intimate relationship to our Lord. I'm learning to reject blanket assumption, simplistic formulas, pat answers, and cookie-cutter programs. Instead, I'm learning to seek Him in each opportunity of service, trusting that when I ask for wisdom, He gives it.

Brother Andrew's example is significant here. In Secret Believers, he relates that when he goes into a Muslim country to serve the church, he doesn't come with a prepared 12-step system or any other formula. Instead, he listens, learns what the needs are, and sees how he can serve in accordance with their needs. In Communist countries it was Bibles. Other countries needed literacy training, pastoral education, practical help. Always, he is listening and responding, coming alongside the local church leaders. Ministering without an agenda. Now THAT'S servanthood!

We don't get to pick whom we serve - our "neighbor" is whoever God puts in front of us with a need. And what I'm learning from Brother Andrew and others is that when I face that person, I need to listen - to her and to the Holy Spirit - to be able to respond without my own agenda.

I have so much to learn, but it is my privilege to approach this blog as one way of serving you. Please pray for me, as I do for those of you I know personally. Together, we're learning to serve.

May the Father's heart be pleased.

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