a Character Like Christ's”
“Reaching Out to Serve Others on Behalf of Our Heavenly Father”
Based on John
Delivered on March 28 & 29, 2009
by David J.
2009 by David J. Claassen
Many people are interviewing for jobs
these days. Imagine an employer
interviewing two applicants. She asks
them both the same question: “Why do you want to work here?”
first applicant responds, “Because I need a job; I need the income.”
second applicant responds, “Because I think I can help your business to
that all other factors on the two resumes are essentially equal, which
applicant will get the job? The second,
of course. The reason is obvious: the
first applicant is focused on himself.
He doesn't really want a job; he wants a paycheck. The second applicant also wants a paycheck,
but his answer doesn't focus on what he's going to get out of the job; it’s
focused on what the employer will get out of his having the job. The emphasis isn’t on what he can get; it’s
on what he can give. The business world
loves a servant's heart.
kind of boss would you rather work for — a boss who likes being a boss so he
can be bossy, or a boss who likes being a boss because it's the best way he can
be a positive influence? Of course we'd
rather work for a boss who doesn't enjoy having power over people, but instead
sees his position as the best way for him to serve others. The business world loves a servant's heart.
organizations, and governments – any groups that need a leader -- thrive when
there's a servant's attitude. When you
think about it, every aspect of life goes better when people think about how to
serve others before they think about themselves.
always amazes me that Jesus lived and taught all the principles of successful
living! We’re continuing our series of
six messages about “Developing a Character Like Christ's” in which we're
examining key ways in which we should be like Jesus: ways in which, as His
followers, we’re supposed to be Christ-like.
Jesus Saw Himself As THE Servant
Jesus made a
statement about Himself, using His familiar title “Son of Man” for
Himself. In it He stated clearly what
you could call His personal mission statement: “The Son of Man did not come
to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
drew upon the Old Testament prophecies about Himself as the Messiah to help Him
define His role as the ultimate servant.
One such passage is in Isaiah 42: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit upon him and he will
bring justice to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:1) The entire chapter is filled
with prophecies about Jesus as the Messiah, and it begins by calling Him the
the end of His earthly life when He shared His last supper with the disciples
in a borrowed upper room of a house, Jesus again defined His purpose for having
come into the world. The historical
record states that during the meal “he got up from the meal, took off his
outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and
began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped
around him.” (John 13:4-5)
washing of feet was done by the servant of a household upon the arrival of the
master's guests. Roads were dusty in
those days, and the sandaled feet of the guests would be dirty. In this case it was just Jesus and His
disciples who were there. None of the
disciples thought to do the servant’s task, but Jesus did! None of them must have ever forgotten their
master Jesus holding their bare feet in His hands and washing them! He would soon play the ultimate servant's
part and die for them on the cross — and for us, too! Jesus was the ultimate servant, and we're
supposed to be like Him in that we’re in this world to serve others!
A Servant’s Identity
washed all twenty-four feet, “he put on his clothes and returned to his
place. 'Do you understand what I have done
for you?’ he asked them. 'You call me
“Teacher” and “Lord” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have
washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do
as I have done for you.’” (John 13:12-15)
There you have it, stated as plainly as possible: Jesus saw Himself as
being put here on Earth to serve — and as His followers, we're supposed to see
our purpose in life as the same.
The Five Levels toward Maturity in Christ that provide a
simple-to-understand path of spiritual growth here at Mayfair-Plymouth, we're
focusing in this series on the fourth level: Becoming like Christ. It's very clear when you look at the life and
teachings of Jesus that He saw Himself as the ultimate servant! We’re supposed to be like Him in that way, so
we're asked by Him to step up to the fifth level of the road toward maturity in
Christ: Serving with Christ.
Jesus made it
clear that we're special when we’re willing to serve Him and the people He puts
within our spheres of influence. He
stated, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”
(Matthew 20:20-28) In the world's eyes,
a person who’s served by others is perceived as great, but in the eyes of Jesus
and the Heavenly Father, the one who serves is great! Jesus said we should so live that we can look
forward to hearing from the Heavenly Father, as Jesus put it in one of His
parables, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21) Our identity should be that of God's servant,
placed here on Earth to serve Him by serving the people He's placed around us!
then, is how you should look at your life; don't miss this! You’re the one and only gift that you have to
give! By having a servant’s heart and
attitude, we give the gift of ourselves to the people God has providentially
put around us.
Your Special Way to Serve
How do we fill
the servant’s role in practical, day-to-day life? It's unique for each of us. We're each a piece of the puzzle of God’s
grand scheme of things. The answers to
five questions can help us to understand the unique way we’re to serve the Lord
by serving others. Each question has a
key word, and the first letter of each of those key words spells the word
– Personality. What kind of personality
do you have?
– Experience. What have you experienced
– Abilities. What abilities has God
– Circumstances. What are your current
– Heart. What are you interested in?
Some people are extroverts and some are introverts. Some are task-oriented and some are
people-oriented. Some are structured and
others are unstructured. God created
your basic personality, and He can use it!
He doesn't ask us to be someone we're not. You’re asked to serve Him and other people
with the personality He's given you.
What have you experienced in life, good and bad? God will have you use your experiences when
you’re asked to serve Him by serving others.
Did you make mistakes in the past?
Has someone else messed up your life?
God never wastes pain! He’ll
build on the rubble of the past. Your
experience also includes any training or education you've had, and He may very
likely draw upon that.
You can do some things better than other things. Though sometimes we’re asked to serve others
in an area we're not particularly good in, generally speaking God calls us to
serve with the abilities He's given us.
That's why He's given them to us!
Don't say you have nothing to offer; God doesn't make junk! Don't insult Him by putting down His
handiwork, which is you!
God won’t ask you to serve where you’re not located, only where you are
now. He may move you to a different
(and, you might hope, better) place in life, but He's calling you to serve Him
in the circumstances where you find yourself now, with the challenges around
you and the people near you — and the opportunities, challenges, and problems
ahead of you.
What interests you? What do you have a
passion for? What is it that makes time
seem to fly by when you focus on it?
What is it that you’d want to do if you could do anything? God has put His heart's desire in you in a
all of these five areas converge, we’ve found our place to serve. This defines how we’re God's gift to His
world. In the Bible God's acting through
His Holy Spirit in these five areas of your life defines what’s called your
spiritual gift (or gifts). Some are
identified in three main passages in the New Testament: Romans 12, 1
Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. God's
desire is to find His home within us through the inner dwelling of His Holy
Spirit, who will then empower us to use our unique personalities, experiences,
abilities, circumstances, and heart's desires.
motivation isn't supposed to come from people being good to us or circumstances
being good. Our motivation should be
internal: from the good Lord inside us, loving us and calling us through the
working of His Holy Spirit. Jesus was
motivated by having been loved and called by the Father. Look closely at what the record says about
Jesus just before He got up to serve the disciples by washing their feet: “Jesus
knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come
from God and was returning to God; so he got up . . . .” (John 13:3-4) He got up and served out of a profound sense
of His identity in His Heavenly Father.
your focus on your Heavenly Father, who has His reasons for your being who you
are and where you are. When you want to
serve Him, He’ll help you to do that in your little corner of the world. Your life is significant to Him! He needs you here!