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About this series
How Jesus Chose to Change the World
What does it mean to be a real disciple of Jesus? Through this new series based in the Gospel of Mark, Chip breaks down this complex idea, by using the simple lessons Jesus taught His followers. We'll learn how characteristics like commitment, humility, and trust - set genuine Christ followers apart. Chip helps us better understand how we can avoid sin, grow in our walk with Christ, and just as important, help others mature in their faith as well. Don't miss how real disciples of Jesus, can radically change our world.More from this series
The third thing that grows out of this is not only gratitude and humility, but the people that I find that are servants, I get this right out of this passage, is a positive ambition. Positive ambition to live a life of impact, to live a life of love, and to live a life of significance.
People who really are servants are not going around thinking, Oh, I’m not worth anything. I’m not very good. God could never use me. No, what they are, they are grateful, they are humble, and they have this positive ambition; they want to be great. They want their world to change, they want their neighborhood to change.
And they are motivated. And all they are asking is, God, how do I channel this motivation? And God says, “You want to be great?” Yeah! “You want to make an impact?” Yeah! “You want to really love people?” Yeah! “Serve them.”
But, see, that love and that impact and that positive ambition to do something significant – if humility doesn’t precede it, it’s just ego in Christian clothes. And if gratitude doesn’t precede it, then it’s just energized out of the flesh.
Do you remember Gandhi? Did you know that at one point in Gandhi’s life he was a very serious student of the Bible? He read all through the gospels, studied the life of Christ, and came to the conclusion that the life of Jesus and the teachings of Jesus were probably the best thing He had ever read to break down the caste system in India. And he began to investigate Christianity, so he went to – of all places – a Christian church.
And so, he went to a Christian church, a Bible-teaching church in India, and when he came to the door, he was quite different than the group that was meeting there. And the ushers told him, “Why don’t you leave and find some group that teaches about Jesuses like you.”
And Gandhi walked away thinking, Apparently, the Christians have a class system too and I might as well find out a different way to break it down. Can you imagine what would have happened if those ushers would have said, “Hey, brother, it doesn’t matter what color, it doesn’t matter the length of the hair, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. Tell you what, man, there’s level ground at the cross.” Can you imagine what could have happened in India? So, the first is the heart.
The second is the eyes. And what I have observed from people who are great servants is they are very astute observers to the needs and the likes and the dislikes of others. They not only, it flows out of the heart, but they have eyes. And when they come into a room, they look at what needs are. They look into people’s eyes and situations and they are always looking what they might need. My tendency is I’m always looking about what I need.
The third thing is the heart, the eyes, then I think the mind. People who are real servants, they are people who think ahead. They plan ahead for opportunities to meet the needs of other people.
Now, think about this. Thinking ahead to love someone. I’ve got a good friend that went through a real financial travesty the last several months. And I got a check in the mail from a guy I don’t know very well, to be honest.
And to make a long story short, he just said, “Your friend is going through a rough time and you find out how rough it is and then you fill in the number and we want to love him and help him.”
And I don’t know much about all that stuff and there’s a guy on our board who is a banker and I turned it all over to him and said, “You take care of it,” and he did a little research and found out that the fellow and his wife had a practice at the beginning of the year, they set aside an “x” amount for an emergency fund in case someone was in some sort of trauma or tragedy or…
And so, when the thing came up, they just said, “Oh, so this is what God wants to use this for.” Now, I’ve got to tell you something, that thought has never occurred to me. Has it to you? But do you see? That’s the mind of a servant.
It’s looking at the people you live with, the people you work with, looking at their habits and their needs, when they get up, when they go to bed, where they are struggling, what they are sharing with you. Planning ahead and meeting a need.
After the eyes, I think next is a servant have a servant’s ears. And you cannot imagine to listen intently, actively, and enthusiastically to people what that does. See, a servant is more interested in what you have to share with me and what it means in your life. Most conversations go something like this, “Hey, boy, I’m really struggling with something. I’m feeling really depressed and, gosh, I don’t know.” “Yeah, you know, I felt depressed last year too. Boy, and I really had a rough time with it. Gosh, oh, how are you doing with it? Yeah. You know, boy, it happened. My mom was going through some rough times and went through some…”
What happened? See, in many of our conversations, you know what we do? Someone starts to share a need and instead of attentively, actively, enthusiastically listening to them, asking questions that draw out and just caring for them, we tend to have our motor running, we don’t really listen. If we ever charted, you ought to chart a family conversation sometime.
It’s usually like a star-shaped deal where what we do is we just interrupt one another. And we use key words to jump off what they said to say what we want to say.
Psychological research tells us one of the most powerful means of communication is to listen intently. See, servants listen. They just listen. They ask some questions that care. So, we’ve got the heart, the mindset of a servant, we’ve got the eyes that looks for needs, we have the mind that plans ahead, we have the ears that listen.
And then with the feet, I think the key here is that you learn to be a servant like you walk. It’s just a little at a time.
I think often I want to do some big servant things and say, “Ah-ha! I served everybody!” Spend a lot of money or do some big deal. And what I have learned is the people that are really servants are people who realize that being a servant basically has to do with the little things.
God will give you chances to serve big, but Luke 16 says, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much. And he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”
I made a note of some little things that have really made an impact on me. This may not sound like much to you, but several months ago, we got an electric blanket. It’s really neat. It’s a little thing. My wife turns on my side before I get there. It’s a little thing, but I like it. When you sit at a restaurant, have you ever thought of where the best view is? And walk in and not make a big deal about it, but just find the seat so the other person gets the best view. See, it’s a little thing, but what is it? It reinforces that mindset.
Have you ever been in an eating situation, especially buffet style and realize that there’s a lot of people? Ain’t much food. And just taking a little. I mean, not noticeable so everyone can say, “Oh, boy, what’s…” But just wise and astute and think about…
Have you ever eaten pizza with junior high kids? Whatever they do, do the opposite and it’s being a servant. I’m dead serious. I’ve seen them almost claw each other to death for the last piece of pizza. One guy has got nine pieces in his mouth and he’s reaching for that second piece of pepperoni.
This is a guy who did this and I didn’t know what he was doing, he was an old Navigator, and old Navigators have unusual ways. But he and I were in a bathroom, a men’s bathroom and we were on a trip. The guy gets done going to the bathroom and I’m thinking, “Man, what are you doing?” And he said, “I’m cleaning this off.” I said, “You’re cleaning what off?”
He said, “Can you believe how people leave this for the next person?” He took a paper towel, a couple of dry paper towels and wiped off the seat. He went over to the sink, it took him about twenty seconds, max. And that bathroom was a hundred percent better than when we came in.
And he said, “You know, so-and-so discipled me and I guess I have always learned from watching his life, a disciple always leaves something better than he found it. And he said, “I don’t have to know the next person that is going to sit on that seat.”
And, see, it’s not a big thing, is it? But, see, the key to being a servant is starting to think that way.
Well, that’s the feet. The little things. And then, finally, the last part here is the back. And what I mean by this is that a real servant looks for pats on the back from God, not from others. And that means they don’t get ticked off when they don’t get credit and they don’t get ticked off when they get treated like a servant.
The heart is the mindset, the eyes are being observant, the mind is planning ahead, the ears is listening, the feet is the walk – the little things, and the back is where do you get your strokes?
Now, really quickly on how to serve wisely. Here’s the axiom and then I want to give you three quick points on it. The axiom is is you and I must be willing to do any job at any time.
There’s nothing below us. The axiom is you do whatever anytime it needs to be done that God tells you to do. With that said, as a general rule, you need to serve out of your strengths. You need to do enough of everything to keep your humility intact. But as a general rule, serve out of your strengths.
See, sometimes I think servanthood and lowliness or servanthood and menial tasks get so tied together that a lot of people have some really skewed ideas about being a servant. You need to minister the great majority, eighty-plus, eighty-five percent of your time out of your strengths so that you can make the greatest contribution.
I remember Dr. Radmacher one morning talking to us about being a servant and it really bothered him, he walked by his office and there was a lot of weeds and he had about a hundred and fifty papers that needed to be graded and some important meetings and he just couldn’t resist. Took off his jacket and he’s pulling weeds and he gets carried away. About an hour later, the students are showing up for class and one of the students sarcastically said, “Oh, gosh, will this have more eternal impact for us, Prof, than you giving me feedback on my paper that’s not back to me yet?”
Now, does a guy need to be willing to weed a garden? You bet. Does the president of a seminary need to spend his time weeding a garden rather than doing the things that only he can do? No.
See, you’ve got to ask: Where can you make the greatest contribution in the body of Christ? What can you do that no one else can do or what can you do that no one else is willing to do? And that’s where you serve. Serve out of your strengths.
The second thing you need to do is serve out of your passions and your gifts. And this is that God has made you with a design, that He has given you a gift mix, that He has given you past experiences, that He has given you a desire to do some things. So serve in a way that is according to your design. Being willing to do anything, but you do what is on your heart, you do what you’re good at.
I meet a lot of people that have the warped idea that if it’s fun and enjoyable and you feel energized and God is using you and you feel real joy inside, well then that’s obviously not God’s will. I wonder what else I should do. God’s will has got to be hard and tough and rigorous and not very fun and sacrificial and…uh-uh.
Parents, what kind of people do you want serving your kids? I want energetic people who think this is, “Those people who want to work with adults, let them. They are missing it, right? Huh? We are where the action is.”
Out of your strengths, out of your gifts, out of your passions.
The final thing is minister out of your overflow instead of out of your overload.
And here’s where what I’d really like to say is I’m concerned probably about you because I feel like some of us haven’t set a good example in recent months is that service for Jesus Christ primarily should be an overflow of the rich experience you’re having with Him, the rich experience with brothers and sisters in Christ, the rich experience with family, and so that with energy and zeal and joy you have made very hard priority decisions and that your life is not filled with hurry and stress and push.
It’s funny, Jesus accomplished more than any man who ever lived, but He never hurried. He never hurried.
And what I’m talking about here is self-care. Not selfishness, but self-care. Recharging your battery; not burning it at both ends.
I just came to a realization after conning myself for several months that I was preaching a better game than I was living, all of you have been there. You push and you push and just after this one more thing, just after this one more thing, just after this one more thing. And you have those times where you sing a chorus and for no reason you can feel the tears swelling up. That tells you you’re near the, I mean, if it’s positive emotion, that’s great. But when you’re kind of burned out and when someone says, “My dog, we named it Fred,” you go, “Oh, gosh, man! That kind of gets me right here.” You understand what I’m saying?
And then you get up and half of your quiet time is spent asking God for the energy to look at life the right way because you just feel like you’re fighting depression all the time. Those are signs of burnout. Those are signs of just push, push, push.
And what I realized, you’ve got to – great self-care. Ask yourself: Are you ministering and ministering without quality filling the spiritual tank? Quiet, quality time with God? Are you filling the emotional tank? Are you laughing? Are you having some fun? Is every night booked up or are you with some people, you’re enjoying and kicking back and relaxing with? The social tank, are you getting that filled up?
And then physically. I don’t know what it is about, especially us evangelicals, the body is the temple of God, but gee whiz, the way we eat and the way we don’t exercise and the way we don’t take care of it, you would think we don’t believe it.
If you don’t take care of your body, it’s His temple, all you’re doing is saying, “I want to be a sprinter, but I don’t want to serve for the marathon.” Because they tell us about forty-five to fifty-five, you’re going to go down with a heart attack, man. Or with colon cancer. And ladies, if you don’t take care of yourselves, they tell us other stuff happens to you.
And see, we’ve got to start taking care of ourselves in such a quality way that we come to serve with overflow and energy and with some passion and with some zeal rather than, “Gosh, I hope I get this done.”
Or praying right up to the edge, “Oh, we made it.” And then you take a breather and then you go at it again.
Well, let’s close it out with some evaluating questions. On the back it says, “Where and how do I seek significance?” I’d like to ask you to do a little meditation. Who are you trying to please? Boy, that’s a penetrating one. If you really want to find out where you’re trying to find your significance ask, “Who are you trying to please?”
Who are you trying to impress? The apostle Paul said, “I wouldn’t be a bondservant of Christ if I were still trying to please people.” You get a hold of that, you’ll get liberated. I’ve got a hold of it and lost it, a hold of it and lost it about a dozen times in my life. But ask and answer the question, “Where are you seeking your significance?”
The second question is how well am I serving? Where is your mind set under pressure? Under pressure, do you find yourself asking, “Ooh, how am I doing? What is going on with me?” Are you observant? Find yourself walking into a room, looking for needs? Find yourself in your family asking, “I wonder how my son or my daughter is feeling about this. I wonder how my parents are feeling. I wonder how my neighbor is. I wonder how my boss is going.”
Are you looking for needs? Do you have the eyes? Do you listen intently? You’re the kind of person that people love to talk to because you listen and don’t interrupt them? Do you anticipate needs? Do you use your mind and think ahead?
Do little things matter to you? Just little things. Just little stuff. Just serving in little stuff. Do you care who gets the credit? Think about that. Do you care? I mean, sure you do. How wisely are you serving? When you look at your service right now, are you doing what no one else can do or no one else will do? Or do you have some strengths and some gifts that you could really exploit, but you’re so afraid, “Boy, I can’t do that because of this and that”? Does your service energize others and bring joy to your heart or is it a drag? Are you serving out of overflow or are you serving under overload?
What I love about this passage and this radical thinking about Jesus is you don’t have to run a 4.3 forty to be great. You don’t have to be able to hit a ninety-eight mile-per-hour baseball to be great. You don’t have to have the social skills and ability to be the CEO of a major corporation to be great. You don’t have to have a lot of money to be great. You know all you need? A servant’s heart and availability. And just be you and say, God, You show me; I’ll do it. And if you’ll do that, He says, “You’re number one!” And you’re great! And God is pleased with you.