The Strength of Serving Others

Serving each other
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Jesus said a strong thing to Peter when He spoke these words: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8). Our Lord’s rebuke introduces a convicting observation: being a servant is not a sign of inner weakness, but of incredible strength.

There is no way to remove the jab and the twist from Christ’s words to Peter. He said, in effect,

“If you do not allow Me to do this, that is it. You’re off the team!”

Anybody who lives under the delusion that Christ was rather weak and spineless has overlooked such statements as this one.

Being a servant in no way implies there will never be a confrontation or strong words shared with others . . . or tough love expressed.

The Lord may choose to use the reproof of a servant who has earned the right to be heard even more often than that of a type-A aggressive leader.

Graciously Receiving and Giving

giving
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Being a super high-achiever, I must confess I find it difficult to receive from others. Really difficult. Like you, I’m usually on the giving end, not the receiving. My pride fights hard to stay intact.

This was brought home to me rather forcefully one Christmas season several years ago. A man in our church congregation drove over to our home with his Christmas gift for our family.

Not something wrapped up in bright paper with a big ribbon, but a thoughtful gift of love demonstrated by washing all the windows of our home.

Know Your Audience

Church
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Two mistakes are commonly made in our pulpits. The first is giving Christians too much of the gospel . . . the second is giving lost people too much theology.

Christians don’t grow if they only hear about the cross and the resurrection in our preaching.

Expositional teaching in sound theology will help the saints grow strong—especially when they are struggling with life.

Our Words and Our Walk

Bible
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No selfless act is so small, no good deed so insignificant, that God cannot see and does not approve. After all, what we do as God’s servants is not for human eyes. Matthew 10:16. 

It is not for our own glory that faithful service is so clearly prescribed throughout Scripture.

It is for the glory of God and God alone. Our God has given us the incredible honor of being His stewards to carry out the work of Jesus Christ through faithful service—in our neighborhoods, across the nation we live in, and around the world.

It is, in fact, the very substance of the Great Commission which tells us that we are to transmit the gospel to others, not only in our confession of Christ but by displaying in our lives a daily example of Christ’s love.

Think about it. When Jesus sent out that first group of wide-eyed and uncertain rustics on their first missionary adventure, don’t you know they were terrified?

You Need Help

Preaching
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You’ve probably preached Exodus 18:17–27 at some point. I have too. But today, it’s time we apply it. It’s the account of a visit Jethro made to his son-in-law Moses.

Old Jethro frowned as he watched Moses flash from one need to another, from one person to another. From early morning until late at night, Moses was neck-deep in conversations, decisions, and activities. (Sound like your week?)

Moses must have looked very impressive—eating on the run, moving fast, planning other appointments, meeting deadlines.

It’s About Character

Looking Good
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Our culture is overly impressed with the externals. You must look good on TV to win the political race. It’s the image you need to polish. Spin it just right. But we all know—and all have seen—that a leader without character is a tragedy getting ready to happen.

As pastors, we know about the importance of character, of course. But knowing it isn’t our assignment. Your congregation requires your character.

Your role is filled because character is present, or it decreases if it is absent. It’s the same with me. The church where I serve as senior pastor has a respect for me and appreciates my efforts (all my weaknesses not withstanding).

Time Is Very Short

Manual worker
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In the early 1950s, I served as an apprentice in a machine shop. For months, one of my jobs was to work an intricate piece of equipment called a tracer lathe.

I was always told, “Chuck, before you change the tool that cuts the aluminum, make sure to turn off the machine. Otherwise you could hurt yourself. You could even kill yourself.”

Sure enough, one day I was rushing to make my production quota, and I failed to turn off the lathe. The wrench I used to loosen the tool slipped . . . and my hand lurched in and out of the spinning chuck.

The bone that led to my little finger was now in a place it shouldn’t be—outside my skin.

His Power, Our Preaching

Man in Church
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In the middle of the week not long ago I walked into our church’s sanctuary. The room was empty and quiet. In fact, it was dark except for the exit lights that never go out.

I came down the middle aisle and stood there with no one else in the room. You know what?

It wasn’t at all exciting or inspiring. Without the presence of God’s people and without the Spirit of God igniting the place with His power, there wasn’t a whole lot to it. It was just an empty, dark room.

I have learned that the same is true of the preacher.

Preventing the Accountability Breakdown

Isolation
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Isolation, loneliness, solitude. Though surrounded by scores of people, pastors know these feelings all too well. Our position as shepherds, separated from the flock in many ways, can cause us to become closed off to much of the world.

Living a private life in secrecy or inaccessibility leaves room for self-betrayal and, ultimately, to what I call an accountability breakdown.

To prevent that breakdown, we need the vulnerability that connecting with others provides. Recognizing our need for others means that we stay aware of any tendency to compromise. We also understand that we are not immune to a fall. We must be willing to open up and connect.

So how do we maintain genuine accountability as pastors?

Serving Good Sermons

Mouse
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Dr. Bruce Waltke tells the story of his wife’s days in home economics in college. They did a test on two white mice, feeding them two completely different diets.

They fed the first mouse . . .

  • Whole milk
  • Wheat bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Carrots
  • Fruit juices

They fed the second mouse . . .

  • Coffee and doughnuts for breakfast
  • White bread and jelly for lunch
  • Candy, potato chips, and Coke for supper

Can you guess the results?