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Effective Leadership

The Call to Serve

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Are you in leadership to serve or be served?


"… And whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:27-28

Matthew 20:27-28; John 13:1-17

Are you in leadership to serve or be served?

Key point: Be the Example!  We are called to show others and influence and shepherd them, not just tell them.  Christian leaders are responsible to care for God's people with faithfulness and honor, and never out of harsh or improper motivations!  Jesus is our archetype and pattern for who we are and what we are to do all in love and humility.  We can trust Christ to lead us; with Him, we can lead others in the same manner.  Jesus calls us by first demonstrating to the Disciples to participate in and spread the kingdom of God, focusing and developing others for Him by service, example, and humility (Matt. 23; 2 Cor. 5:20).

Jesus does the extraordinary when He took a towel to wash His disciples' feet.  We do the opposite when we think we are too good to serve. Jesus completely redefined what leadership and service are. He made the point that these roles are not about position or pride in the world, but rather about our position in Him.  A bowl and towel would be perfect because they represent service--The Ultimate Servant, Christ, not only washed His disciple's feet, but washes the sins of the entire world by His very own blood.  Christ came to serve to exemplify service. It comes from our gratitude in realizing who Christ is, what He has shown us we can do, and our opportunities and our response in gladness to those around us (Matt. 20:27-28; Luke 22:27; John 12:25-26; 13:2-5; Phil. 2:1-4).

True service is a response, just as our Lord demonstrated.

Jesus is the example of Leadership and humble service. Those of us in ministry are never to look at ourselves as above others because we are not; we serve Him who serves!  A prideful church leader is a heinous sight before our Lord and is the one who is truly blind!  Blind to His Word!  A leader is to lead others into the depths and precepts of Christ, and is not superior in any way.  How do we lead with humility?  We do this by our love for the Lord empowering our love for others (Gal. 2:20-21; 2 Cor. 4:5; Phil 4:12)!

Service is an Aspect of Learning and Applying our Spiritual Gifts!  

We are called to use whatever means we can to practice our spiritual gifts and realize that the diversity we have is beneficial for one another.  We are to be charitable and generous to others with what Christ has given us, and serve Him without being held back by fear or lack of time or of talents.  As Christians, we are to typify both faith and reason so we exhibit the maturity needed to make wise decisions and have a purpose in life. This also includes directly caring for those in need, such as the sick, infirmed, and poor. Christians, we are called to go beyond ourselves to serve others well (Titus 2). Kindness is the proof of authenticity (Rom. 2:1-4; 12:4-21; 16:1; 1 Cor. 12:7-11; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:16-23)!

God did not save us to be self-centered; He saved us out of love and for love to be His ambassadors wherever we are and whenever we go!

Service is not to please people, but to please God with all our heart!  It is not about getting public opinion or people on our side; it is leaning on God's side (Deut. 6:13; Psalm 100:2; Matt. 20:27-28; John 13:1-17; Rom. 12:1-31; 1 Cor. 4:1-2; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Eph. 4:9-13; 6:5; Heb. 9:14; 1 Peter 2:16; 4:10)!

We are called to serve!  Service means we are committed to serving others as Jesus called and exemplified.  

Our service is a response as we look at what we do.  This is not about salvation; it is about our response to God.  This is about duty; it is about allowing our love for the Lord to flow into us from Him and then to others around us.  Service builds and prepares us to be stronger in character and in fulfilling our responsibility for His Kingdom.  Service also nurtures and strengthens us as a means of grace; as we grow, we serve. The more we serve, the more Christ-like we become. This is about using the best of what God has given to us, being obedient to Him, and serving Him. We are all called to serve, not as just pastors or Christian professionals, but as our relationship with Christ is woven into all that we do in life.

There is a danger to have our people sit in a pew, learn all they can, take comfort in that knowledge, but never do anything with it.  

We become "fat sheep" who are not exercising our precepts from Him to serve Him.  This is the church that refuses to evangelize, and the Christians who refuse to share their faith, or model Christ on Mondays as well as Sundays.  Be aware that these will be harshly judged; they are no better than the Pharisees.  The proof test is this:  Do you use people, or do you serve them?  Have you just gathered information, or do you apply it?  If you think this does not apply to you, consider that if you are not helping or being a part of a solution of growing in Christ and helping others do so too, then you are in apathy, or maybe have a skewed entitlement mentality (Hos. 6:6; Mica. 6:6-8; Matt. 12 9-14; James 1:21-27)!

To be like Christ, we must serve as He taught and showed us. The key to being a good servant with good service is to keep our eyes on Christ--not on the whims of our hearts, or the wiles of the world, or even what other Christians may say and preach.  It is upon Him only that our eyes should be focused.  This will enable us to use the best of our talents, gifts, and abilities God has given to us so we can be obedient to Him and better serve Him.

Service is all about gratitude.  It is what Jesus has done for me so I can ask the question what can I do for Him?  What would Jesus have me do with character, Fruit, hands on application, or even getting my hands dirty to do what I would not normally desire to do?  How much impact has your Christian faith had in your relationships with others and the work you do?  What about in the world outside of the church?  These questions will help you determine to what extent Christ is real and working in you.  In addition, you can conclude to what capacity of service you have engaged and what is missing.  The way we live our lives in response to what Christ has done for us is the key to living as a Christian.  Service does not save us, of course; it is a fruit of our obedience.

If we claim to know Christ as Lord and hang in His Church, we must yearn to imitate Him and follow His precepts, especially when we lead others!  

This happens when we show the faith to permanently leave our sinful lives, and with overwhelming gratitude, follow Jesus.  We must first follow before we can lead.  We are never to be unfaithful, prideful, manipulative, or abusive to the people God gives us to care for, for such an act is wicked and we will be held to a strict accounting (Jer. 23:1-2; 31:34; Ezek. 34:11-31; Mic. 5:4; 6:8; Hos. 6:6; John 15 and16; 17:21-23).

We can either be a blessing to others or we can ignore them.  However, we cannot be that blessing if we are not following Christ and taking heed of His example, His grace, and His love so we have the desire to respond.  Otherwise, our own plans will fill that gap and will get the best of us. The sins of others and the sins of our heart will break us down and take us over unless we focus on Christ, His ways, and His path.


© 2016 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development


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