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May 23, 2003

Taking Things Into My Own Hands

John 13:3-5
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded

The washing of the disciples' feet has always been a tender picture of humility. Reading it again I noticed something I hadn't before. I wonder what it was about "knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands" that led to the disciples' feet being the first thing Jesus took in His hands.

What is it that truly transforms one into a humble servant? Maybe it is truly understanding one's purpose that frees you to serve. In this significant act, Jesus said he had given them an example to follow (v.15). But I think that (as with most things) it didn't really register until the resurrection. Not the fact of Jesus' humility in this act of service, but the larger picture of how He was free to humble Himself because He understood His purpose. It was a lesson in embracing the will of God as much as a model of servant leadership.

One other ingrediant of embracing God's purpose is the love it produces for those He "gives you" to care for. V. 1 that "Jesus knew His hour had come." And from the beginning He loved "His own...to the end." Despite all thier mistakes, and lack of understanding, He loved them...us...me.

For me, there is still a lot of my life that is about making things happen...taking control. But Jesus, the only thing He took into His own hands at this significant moment was...feet. When I think of taking things into my own hands it has to do my success. Jesus already had been given all things into His hands, but He releases them so He can perform the most menial of tasks. Paul says that He did not consider His rightful place as something to be "grasped" (NIV) or held on to, instead He became a servant (Philippians 2:6-9). He understood His purpose.

So there's this life triad: as I understand God's specific purpose for my life, it should produce a love for people, that is expressed through the humility that the other two factor should produce. This seems to be an increasing cycle - purpose, love, humility, purpose, love, humility...I want it to be at work in me.

June 5, 2007

Heartless Words

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 (NKJV)
Also do not take to heart everything people say,
Lest you hear your servant cursing you.
For many times, also, your own heart has known
That even you have cursed others.

One of the challenging things about pastoring is dealing with the things that get said about you. For the most part people are affirming and thankful for the ministry that they receive. But there's a whole other group who feel free to express their disappointment in and frustration with you, but never to you. They think you should be doing this or that, or you should change something. They'll talk ungraciously about your shortcomings and failures without considering how their words injure and wound. This kind of thing comes with the territory. What I'm ashamed to admit is how many times I've done that to others.

Yesterday I was reading the blog of a young pastor who's getting a lot of heat because of how quickly his church is growing. He wrote an interesting entry, about what we tend to do to each other as pastors. Now serving again as an associate, I've got to be very careful about what I say. I don't want my own need for validation to cause me to counterfeit affirmation by degrading someone else. Neither do I want to participate in conversations where others are doing this to someone. It's harder to do than you think.

Lord, help me to guard my heart from the thoughtless words spoken about me by others. Help me to guard my mouth from doing it to others.

August 15, 2007

Job Description

2 Kings 3:11-12 (NIV)
But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there no prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD through him?"
An officer of the king of Israel answered, "Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah."
Jehoshaphat said, "The word of the LORD is with him." So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

There are phrases in the scripture that paint such a beautiful picture. I often overlook them because they're often subtle and get lost in the larger story. This is one of them. When the officer was asked to explain who Elisha was to the king of Judah (because Elisha was a prophet to the northern kingdom), he says, "He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah." Simply put, he said that Elisha was Elijah's personal servant. More than that, this phrase describes the intimate relationship Elisha had with Elijah and the selfless way he served him.

I wonder how I would be described as an under-shepherd. Would people describe me as "the guy who is always wanting attention" or "the platform grabber." Am I seen as out to build my own kingdom, or working to serve the interests of the man whom God has assigned me to support? I wonder sometimes if my heart and my actions and my words reflect the humility Elisha had. For it was that humility that one day released his authority.

"He used to pour water water on the hands of Elijah." On their last night together, Jesus knelt before the disciples and pored water on their feet. He said, "I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." I've never quite known how to describe what I do at C-stone...but I now know what my primary responsibility should be: to pour water.

Lord, let my reputation be that of a servant.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in the Serving / Ministry category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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