Serving Well?

water heart

Read John 13:1-5

 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Serving others is a value that Jesus modeled extensively in His time with His disciples. There is no clearer depiction of that than in the passage above. Jesus, the Teacher/Son Of God, is aware that the custom has been skipped or overlooked by His followers. What does Jesus do? He doesn’t point it out and or guilt someone into doing the right thing. Instead, He gets up, humbly taking on the role of a servant. There is much to be said about modeling service and servanthood, but I’ll just address a few of them in this post. At the core of service is the heart/motivation for what we do for others. Jesus demonstrated three essential things required to serve others well.

To serve others well, value people over plans.

Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

This wasn’t a rush service job. Even though Jesus knew His time to die was close, He took this intimate time with His disciples and deliberately washed their feet. Painstakingly, Jesus poured the water, over each foot, drying each with the towel. He could have asked them all to line up, get ready for a mass service project; but He didn’t.  The plan was to die, but He took the time to serve each one there. This communicates volumes about Jesus’ concern about others. He didn’t plow through the people to just get it done! He loved them to the end. He showed them value and esteemed them greatly. That’s what serving others well looks like.

To serve others well, be confident, courageous and elevate others.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.

Serving others well means that we have to be confident and courageous enough to stoop down to serve. Jesus knew who He was, to Whom He belonged and therefore, He was able to give the very best of Himself to others. Confidence is not found in belittling or berating others. Real confidence is found in knowing why you exist and for what purpose. It is found in knowing to Whom you belong and that you are unconditionally loved. Jesus knew His Father well along with His purpose and plan. His identity was not found in what He was doing (washing their feet as a servant) but in His relationship with His Father. When we truly know who and whose we are, we are free to be and to serve others around us with confidence and courage. It truly takes courage to elevate others, because it is an act of hope for others’ success, even by your submission. Serving His disciples was not “below” Him; it was an act of unconditional love. Jesus was able to show this kind of love because He Himself was love and wrapped in the Love of the Father.

To serve others well, love God and love people.

…he loved them to the end.

Jesus modeled what serving others looked like very well. He showed that it was more about loving God and people than the acts themselves. For some, love will only go “so far” but not for Jesus. He loved them all the way unto the end. His service was not just when it was convenient or easy but modeled that at any given time, serving well means loving well. He was compelled by love in everything He did having no ulterior motive or hint of self. Jesus loved His Father and followers with pure unadulterated love and He expects us to do the same.

Are you serving well?

Think over these questions:

Do you rush through tasks you do for others?

Do people feel valued and cared for by you?

How do you make people feel? Unimportant? Projects? Valued? Loved? Seen? Heard?

Is there anything you wouldn’t do for others? For Jesus?

How confident are you in who you are? To Whom you belong?

Do you have a problem in helping others succeed?

What is at the center of your motivation for serving others? Is it to get something in return?

Advertisements

Devotionals For Leaders: Love Overflows

l o v e   e x p l o d e s

The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

Love overflows. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t have to prove itself because it simply exudes spontaneously. God is Love and if He resides within us,  His Love will flow from us back to Him and to others. Oswald Chambers said:

If we try to prove to God how much we love Him, it is a sure sign that we really don’t love Him. The evidence of our love for Him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, which flows naturally from His nature within us. And when we look back, we will not be able to determine why we did certain things, but we can know that we did them according to the spontaneous nature of His love in us.

The leader must first and foremost be a lover. This is where we err. We can become fixated on doing things right and forget that we need to primarily love right. Leaders are not meant to just be managers but lovers of God and lovers of people. This love supernaturally overflows from God down to us and then out of us onto others.

Love God.

God doesn’t want robots. He doesn’t want rote answers or prayers. He wants love songs. He wants smiles and hugs. He wants our affection and hearts in passionate display. This is love, right? It cannot be prescribed or formulaic; it can only be natural. So love God in ways that are natural for you. Let your love for God flow from your heart of praise for Who He is and what you understand about Him.

The leader must daily be swept up in God’s love. When we fail to love people we become a taskmaster, simply using people or moving people. But when we love people, the people move of their own accord because of the power of love. Being caught up in that forceful flow, people follow the leader whose love is genuine and real. A leader can only love this way when they have experienced the love of God themselves.

Love Others.

People don’t want fake sentiments of love. They don’t want our platitudes. They want our hearts; hearts of compassion and sincerity. They want smiles and hugs. They want to know our love is genuine but it can only remain genuine when our hearts for God are genuine. We are unable to love with the love of God if God is not our first love. Love for others only overflows when we are overtaken by His love for us and them. God loves people more than we can imagine and as His leaders, He wants us to love them well also. We will love them well when we serve them well. Don’t focus on being right. Focus on loving them right.

Final thought: Remember that loving God and people is our primary goal as a leader. If we don’t love right we will not lead right. So let the love overflow.

Devotionals For Leaders: Avoiding Burnout

burnout

Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up? Exodus 3:1-3

It’s easy for us to get caught up in what we want to do for God. We can dream our dreams and make our plans and those things can become our driving force. We can become so caught up in what we want to do for God that we miss God Himself. This is a huge danger for the leader.

As leaders it’s vitally important to remember that God has entrusted visions and dreams to us. But we must submit them back to God. We cannot allow the vision or dream to consume or overwhelm us. Our ideas of how things can or should be accomplished can become all-consuming and eventually lead to burnout. This is not God’s desire: that anyone should “burnout” for Him. How does God get glory from a person who is no longer able to serve or who no longer is able to contribute?

Remember the burning bush that God used to communicate to Moses? It says the bush “burned but was not consumed.” What can we learn from this bush to help us avoid burnout and fulfill God’s dreams for our lives?

1) Be rooted in God.

This bush was planted on “holy” ground. It became holy unto the Lord when the Lord inhabited it. The same is true for us. We can easily take roots and identity in our “work” which is not what God intends. Our roots and identity need to be in God alone. When the Lord enters into a heart, He is the One who makes us holy and crafts us for His work. Our task is to simply grow in Him first and foremost. Don’t become caught up in burning for God…grow in God. Then when the time is right God will set you afire.

2) Be available to God.

Sure there were other bushes around but God chose this one. God has chosen you for certain tasks and jobs. Don’t try to do what God has called others to do. And don’t just assume that because something needs to be done that you are the one to do it. As leaders this is very difficult. It’s really important to not overload ourselves with tasks and things that God has not “called” us to do. In so doing, we are not available to do the things that God HAS called us to do. Busyness crowds out availability. This bush burned because it was consumed with God. When we as leaders are more consumed with God than stuff or schedules, or even our own ideas of timetables and plans, we will burn and not burnout. A servant simply waits in availability until the Master says “do”.

3) Be set apart for God.

This bush was the one God chose to use to speak to Moses. We don’t really know why or if there was any particular reason other than God chose to. The last point is to be set apart for God’s use so that God can use you when He is ready. The word “holy” essentially means that: to be set apart. Even though it has the idea of purity and righteous, it’s core definition means to be set aside for a particular use. God wants us to consecrate ourselves and to be set apart for His use. When we begin to set aside time, carve away our schedules, and even seek to be alone and away from others, we will begin to burn for God from a deeper place. Our passion becomes for God and not the “things” of God. Our love becomes for Him and not just ourselves looking good by accomplishing things for Him.

Final thought: God wants you to burn but not burnout for Him. Don’t replace activity for God for intimacy with God.

Devotionals For Leaders: Closed Doors

closed_doors_by_miraccoon-d5rr908

Not every door that is closed is from God closing it. Some of them, you have closed. Some opportunities are only once-in-a-lifetime and they cannot be revisited. However, don’t miss the next ones to come by focusing too much on the missed ones. The ones that were missed are gone! If you are reminded of them by God, it is only to gently encourage you to not make the same mistake again. Yes, the memory may be painful but God’s intention is to use it to instruct you and lead you into greener pastures. Don’t spend your time trying to pull open a door that has been locked in the past. Instead walk through the doors that are opening right in front of you now.

What does this require? Faith. Trust. Motivation. Focus. Discipline. Belief. God may be trying to cultivate these character qualities into your life. Which ones seem to apply to you now?

Final thought: Don’t miss your next opportunity by trying to recreate the last one you missed.

Oswald Chambers said:

“Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been! God never again opens the doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors which we have shut– doors which had no need to be shut. Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.”

For further reading:

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19:41-44

Discipleship Replication

??????????????????????????

 

Discipleship is nothing less than multiplication through replication. As followers of Jesus we are meant to reproduce our lives in the lives of others. This is God’s will for our lives as bonafide disciples of Jesus. Just as an orange tree naturally produces oranges, we are to naturally (really supernaturally through the Holy Spirit) produce disciples of Christ. Here are 4 truths about discipleship replication.

1) Disciples beget disciples.

In the natural realm, reproduction follows naturally after like kinds. This means that as it is natural for an orange tree to produce oranges, it is only an orange tree that can produce seeds for an orange tree. In the same manner, just as a disciple will produce fruit in keeping with Christ ( love, joy, peace, gentleness etc.) only a disciple can produce another disciple. Disciples beget disciples. Are you producing disciples through your life?

2) Discipleship is a (Super)natural product of a disciple of Jesus.

Of course disciples can attend classes and churches can employ programs but this is not what Jesus is talking about. Jesus did not sign His “followers” up for a class nor did He use some detailed program to test their aptitude or competency. Instead, Christ commanded that they “follow Him”. He was going to be the example before them. He was going to not only show them the ropes, He was going to do it with them. We are to “bear” fruit and disciples as a mother bears a child in birth. The process of giving birth is a natural as well as a supernatural miracle of life. This is not lost in a spiritual sense whatsoever. The metaphor of a physical birth directs us to the importance and necessity of the spiritual one. As true disciples of Christ, we will be giving birth to others who will grow up, imitate and emulate our very walk with Christ. Are you producing disciples?

3) Disciples become like their teachers.

Jesus was clear on this point in John 13:12-17 that His disciples should do unto others as He had done unto them. Jesus told them to imitate Him. Even if He had not told them, the natural progression is that children become like their parents and so will our disciples! Workers become like their bosses, followers become like the leaders and mentees become like their mentors. As we disciple others, it’s very revealing to look in the mirror of another life and see who you really are. We will only produce who and what we are and if you want to clearly see that, just look at the lives of the people closest to you…do they look like Jesus because of you?

4) Discipleship through replication takes time.

No birth, growth or fruit can be rushed. As tempting as it is to try and rush the life cycle, it only happens one day at a time. Discipleship requires a lifelong commitment to others as we partner with God in seeing people become more like Jesus. Through the deliberate scheduling of time together for prayer and Bible study, the processing of life events and seeking God’s eternal kingdom here and now, we can see disciples of Christ formed in our churches once again. Jesus invested 3 years in discipling His followers. What would your church, your life, your organization look like if you made a 3 year commitment to disciple them?