For the last few days I have been pondering some thoughts on the issue on servanthood. I’m realizing that not all people who may serve at a church are truly servants, just as someone who may work at a business may not be a worker. i think we’ve all met these kind of people. Here’s a revised quote to sum up everything i’m about to write:
Sleeping in a garage doesn’t make you a car. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian…and volunteering for a church ministry does not make you a servant.
We have a serious problem in the church nowadays. The problem is that we think we have rights. We think that we deserve certain things in this life and in the church and we think we deserve them without any testing or proving first.
My church plays what i call “the game”. We have been getting many well-equipped new people/members joining our church. Some of these people have come from impressive ministries. So when they come and join, they want titles, authority, responsibility and people to ask them for their opinion. Now in our church, we have spent years building a good name. Never a scandal, never a curse…we are loved by our city, county, state and nation…with physical evidence for each. Spiritually, we’re on the very front lines pioneering paths into the deepness of God. We have so much that hinges on the morality, humility and purity of our leadership team — paid staff or not. But how can you look at someone and know what kind of character they will have in the long run? You can’t. That’s why my church seems to play a game. This game is all subliminal. We don’t try to do this but regardless, this is what happens time and time again. The point of “the game” is to create pressure and frustration in all areas possible. This is achieved many ways, but the result is the same. It causes pressure and frustration gives everyone a great look at the inward character of a person.
There are three possible outcomes.
- Faithful with little.
This is the person that comes through with flying colors. They hold on and won’t quit regardless of how they feel about what’s happening. They prove themselves not to stuggle heavily with pride or ego and now can be trusted with responsibility and authority (responsibility without authority is one of the tests…it’s really frustrating) knowing that they have no secret agenda of their own, but they want to do all they can to help people line up under the church’s vision.
- Faithful but needs more character building.
This is the person that everyone can see the potential in, but they’re lacking in a few main areas. The big difference between this person and the one that fails is teachableness. Some people learn slower than others, so as long as you keep learning and want to be taught then you are still in “the game” (lol…this sounds really bad, i just don’t know how to say it any other way). Coming into responsibility and authority is more of a journey instead of a destination with this person. Meaning that it comes slower to reach the fullness of it. It’s like being given two talents instead of five (from the parable).
This is the person who refuses to submit and be taught. They feel that they are perfect the way they are (whether or not they will ever admit it outloud) and need no help becoming better and more mature in Christ. Usually these people try to get the church to do things the way they have done them in other places before they came here. You cannot put a church in a box. There is no one size fits all mentality that works, and if the person refuses to believe that, then how can they be trusted to be an under-shepherd to the church?
Servants make great leaders. Servants know they have no rights. So if a person can’t serve, how can they be a good leader? Here are some qualities that i think make a good leader/servant and a bad one.
Things that make a leader/servant:
- Humility – I love what our pastor says…“the Bible says that ‘everyone seems to be right in their own eyes’…God doesn’t care if you’re right…He cares about your righteousness.” God would rather us be righteous than right, and that really comes down to humility, the humility of understanding who you truly are apart from God and knowing that there is no job or judgment that you “don’t deserve”. There never should be a time that you’re too mature to clean toilets or work nursery at a church.
- Faithfulness – Ultimately, it’s not about how you act once but how you act and respond in the long run. That’s why faithfulness is such a key. We have too many bi-polar Christians in the church who are one way one second and a different way the next. God is looking for people who are steady and faithful.
- Teachableness – This is a big one. A true leader/servant can always be taught, whether by God or by a person. A person who is teachable will hear whatever and however something is spoken to them. They have mastered the “chew the meat and spit out the bones” approach. They can listen to counsel and not take it as a personal attack.
- Devotion – I chose this word over “available”. Some people have busy lives and can only give so much time, but that shouldn’t be the deciding factor. What should be looked at is their devotion in the time that they do give. Do they see a project/job through to the end regardless of its popularity? Will they spend themselves for the task to which they committed? How much do they believe in what they’re doing?
Things that are unbecoming of a servant:
- Easily offended – It’s like walking forever on thin ice when someone has this. You’re always wondering what’s going to tick them off or when they’re going to pick up the jacks and go home. Offense is a response. It is not the same as frustration. Frustration is a feeling and emotion, offense is more of an action. It’s something that cross the line between “thought and intent” (Hebrews 4:12)
- Never wrong – I get really worried about someone when I look back and I cannot remember them ever saying “I was wrong”. There is a big difference between saying “I was wrong” and “You were right”. It has all to do with pride.
- Unsubmitted – I have so many examples of this one. People who are unsubmitted won’t be involved with things that don’t line up to their vision. If someone doesn’t use their ideas, then that person won’t help them out. It’s a big form of control and manipulation and can make a church split quicker than almost anything.
- Slandering – This is one that I struggle with. Slandering is talking bad about leaders when you yourself won’t pay the price to be one. It is also talking about people (the truth or not) with no redemptive purpose. I have to watch myself cause i have a tendency to attack rather to defend. A true servant is a shield-bearer, not a sword-wielder.