We Serve God by Serving Others

September 25, 2008

by Rick Warren

A Helping Hand Poverty Firefighter

Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Mark 10:43 (MSG)

We serve God by serving others.

The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.

Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status. God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you.Help (XL) Environmental Conservation

This is so contrary to the world’s idea of greatness that we have a hard time understanding it, much less practicing it. The disciples argued about who deserved the most prominent position, and 2,000 years later, Christian leaders still jockey for position and prominence in churches, denominations, and parachurch ministries.

Thousands of books have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood. Everyone wants to lead; no one wants to be a servant. We would rather be generals than privates. Even Christians want to be “servant-leaders,” not just plain servants. But to be like Jesus is to be a servant. That’s what he called himself.

While knowing your shape is important for serving God, having the heart of a servant is even more important. Remember, God shaped you for service, not for self-centeredness. Without a servant’s heart, you will be tempted to misuse your shape for personal gain. You will also be tempted to use it as an excuse to exempt yourself from meeting some needs.

Car In The DitchGod often tests our hearts by asking us to serve in ways we’re not shaped. If you see a man fall into a ditch, God expects you to help him out, not say, “I don’t have the gift of mercy or service.”

While you may not be gifted a particular task, you may be called to do it if no one who is gifted at it is around. Your primary ministry should be in the area of your shape, but your secondary service is wherever you’re needed at the moment.

Your shape reveals your ministry, but your servant’s heart will reveal your maturity. No special talent or gift is required to stay after a meeting to pick up trash or stack chairs. Anyone can be a servant. All it requires is character.

It is possible to serve in church for a lifetime without ever being a servant. You must have a servant’s heart.

How can you know if you have the heart of a servant?

Jesus said, “You can tell what they are by what they do” (Matthew 7:16 CEV).

© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers.
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