Looking For Leaders Who Serve
As we begin this morning I want you to think about a quality that you admire in a leader. What are some of the qualities you have seen in the lives of others that you would like to see in your own life as well?
Maybe you think about courage. I believe that’s a good answer. So many people these days seem to lack the ability to confront their personal fears or to face life’s uncertainties with confidence.
What about wisdom. We need leaders that not only have intelligence, but know how to apply that intelligence. Wisdom is the application of what we know, at the right time and the right place.
Maybe some of you would have thought about the quality of self-control. We like to follow someone who has the ability to practice moderation and restraint. And if you have ever had a struggle with weight or smoking or your temper, self control might rank high on your list of desired virtues.
What about good judgment? We want to know that our leaders have thought about the direction that they are leading us, and have a plan on how to get there.
If I were to ask you to write that one quality that you are looking for on a piece of paper and turn it in, I wonder how many of us would have written the trait of humility? I would venture to guess that humility probably wouldn’t make the top ten traits that we are looking for. We live in a society where we have equated a healthy sense of self-esteem with personal arrogance.
Now we don’t use the word arrogance. We say folks have swagger, or they have a strong attitude, or they command respect. As a result we have very few leaders with a healthy self-esteem. What we have is a society of people who praise folks who display a boorish, uncivil, or cruel behavior.
That’s not the type of leader that God is looking for His Church. He wants us to recognize men that stoop to serve, not men who yell, scream, and shout until they get their own way. God calls for the men who lead His Bride to be men of humility. Men who know that they stand on others’ shoulders.
If ever their was a trap for leaders to get caught in, I would say that it is the trap of dealing with pride. In his letter to Timothy Paul is very clear that a leader must be on his guard with the struggle of pride or he might be too proud of himself and be judged guilty just as the devil was.
It’s such a problem because it happens without warning, to even the most godly of leaders. We see it happen in the life of the disciples. I find it interesting that in the twelve men Jesus handpicked to change the world there were lots of things they could have had disagreements over. For example, Simon the Zealot hated all things Roman, and Matthew the Tax collector turned his back on his own people and was actually working for Rome. I would imagine that those two guys had a few struggles at least politically. But you never read of them getting cross with one another over politics.
But there are several instances that we do see the apostles at odds. In Luke 9:46 we see that “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.” In Mark 9:33 we read “Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.” And in Matthew 20 James and John’s mother asked if her boys could sit on the right and left hand of Jesus, which angered the other ten disciples.
Who is the greatest in the kingdom? The lust for power and position can be seen as far back as the Garden of Eden, but I want to take you back to one more text this morning. It’s found in Luke 22, and Jesus has just finished establishing the Lord’s Supper. He has just told these men, again, that He was going to die to redeem mankind. Let’s pick up the text starting in verse 24. (Read Luke 22:24-27)
Once again there it is. The struggle of pride shows up and our Savior reminds them that the call to follow Him is a call to have a servants heart. As we look for leaders for His bride here at Park Central we need to find men that have servant hearts as well. As I was thinking about the best way to unwrap this, I though that the heart has four parts, Ok maybe there are lots of parts, but lets just focus on the four chambers. So this morning I want us to look at the four qualities that I believe are evident in the heart of a servant.
First, a servant has a humble heart.
I already mentioned the text in Matthew 20 but let’s read it together. Matthew 20 starting in verse 20, The mother of James and John came to Jesus with her two sons. She knelt down and started begging him to do something for her. Jesus asked her what she wanted, and she said, “When you come into your kingdom, please let one of my sons sit at your right side and the other at your left.”
You can see what James and John are thinking. There was going to be a crisis, and Lord, we’ve been betting on you all the way. After the crisis is over you are going to get to divide up the spoils in victory. We want to hit you up first, Lord, before these other guys get to you. If it’s ok, Lord, when you come into glory, how about putting one of us on the right and one of us on the left?
That’s the way the world does it. When you win you give your friends the best positions. You fight hard, you win, and then the winner brings his friends in. That’s the way City Hall works. That is certainly the way it works in Washington. But Jesus said “the gentiles love to do things that way…perks, power, prestige and plum positions. Not so among you.”
Our world operates by the rule of, it is not what you know, it’s who you know, and if you know the right person at the right time, they lift you up to the right position. Here we see Jesus saying, that may be the way the world does it, not so among you. You want to be a leader? Great. Be a servant. You want to be #1? Become a slave.
Chuck Swindoll writes, “There are two primary marks of humility in the life of the believer. The first is a non-threatening attitude when you are confronted by another person. You are approachable. You can be confronted without getting angry, hostile or defensive. The second is deep sensitivity to the needs of others.”
As we look for leaders I hope that you are praying for men who are approachable. Because there are going to be times in your life that you are going to have to approach these men. There is going to be a concern or a problem and you will need to go to them and if they are approachable it will make all the difference in the world.
And we need men who have a deep sensitivity to the needs of others so that in times of our distress, when we are afraid, they will seek us out to meet the very needs of our souls. Men who will search for straying sheep in times of personal crisis or turmoil.
Secondly we see that a servant has an honest heart.
For so many of us, the idea of honesty is a bit of a pipe dream. In our society it is commonplace to lie a little, fudge a little bit, cut a corner. And that’s just for the common folk. You have someone who wields a bit of power and who is successful we can throw honesty out the window.
Don’t believe me??? Check the reactions in the news about a certain football coach that got fired this week. Because he was winning football games the crowds were willing to let his lies, and his affair with a employee slide. After all what’s the big deal as long as we are successful right?
God calls us to something better. God wants leaders in His church that have a heart that is free from deceit or deception. A leader in the church must be someone who is transparent, someone who you can count on to do what they say they are going to do. Honest means truth, integrity, wholeness, no trickery, no deceit, no game playing.
I think of a Psalm 15 type of man when I think of someone who is honest. In Psalm 15 David is asking the question, Lord who will you let come close to you? Who will you let be your friend? and the answer? Only those who are innocent and who do what is right. Such people speak the truth from their hearts and do not tell lies about others. They do no wrong to their neighbors and do not gossip. They do not respect hateful people but honor those who honor the Lord. They keep their promises to their neighbors, even when it hurts. They do not charge interest on money they lend and do not take money to hurt innocent people.
You know this Psalm is not just for our leaders, but for everyone who wants to have a relationship with God. Let me challenge you this week to spend some time with Psalm 15. Let it be the mirror of your soul while you ask yourself, “How am I doing versus what Psalm 15 says?” You will be challenged and convicted by God’s high standards.
Our leaders will not be perfect, by any means. But they will be honest with their faults and failures. They will tell the truth about their shortcomings, which will do an amazing thing. When they are honest about their failures it will make it easier for me when they have to approach me about mine.
Thirdly we see that a servant has an unselfish heart
There is this great story in Numbers 11 about Eldad and Medad. If those names don’t sound familiar to you, that’s ok. They are not prominent players in the story of Israel, but this story is important for our discussion this morning.
In Numbers 11 we see the children of Israel are in the wilderness and finally preparing to enter the Promised Land. God said to Moses, "Gather together seventy men from among the leaders of Israel, men who you know to be respected and responsible. Take them to the Tent of Meeting. I'll meet you there. I'll come down and speak with you. I'll take some of the Spirit that is on you and place it on them; they'll then be able to take some of the load of this people and you won't have to carry the whole thing alone.
So Moses called together seventy of the leaders and had them stand around the tent. God came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders. When the Spirit rested on them they prophesied.
Meanwhile two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed in the camp. They were listed as leaders but they didn't leave camp to go to the tent. But the Spirit rested on them and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!" Joshua said, "Moses, Stop them!" But Moses said, "Are you jealous for me? I wish that all God's people were prophets and that God would put his Spirit on all of them."
Moses was displaying an unselfish heart, he understood that God’s work was bigger than he was. He knew that God’s concerns were larger than his concerns and God’s plans were grander than he was. Moses understood that he was not the center of the kingdom of God on earth. He knew that he was just a part and God has a million other parts.
We need to find leaders that understand the bigger picture of what God is trying to do. We need to find men who are grateful to be working in the kingdom of God but also understand that the kingdom does not begin or end with them. Because there will come a time when our Shepherds disagree, and if they are men with unselfish hearts the work of the kingdom will continue because they would not stand in the way.
Finally a servant has a giving heart
This is the heart of Christianity; the message of giving fills the pages of our Bibles “For God so loved the world, that he gave.” “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.”
I believe that if we are going to find leaders who have a heart for God, we will find men who share God’s giving nature. Men who are not afraid to give of their time, their compassion, their guidance, their forgiveness, their wisdom, their love. Men who, while are not perfect, make it their intent to walk as Jesus walked. That’s the type of leader I want to follow, and that’s they type of leader who will lead us to do magnificent things for the Kingdom of God.
I have intentionally picked four words to describe the heart of a servant leader: humility, honesty, unselfishness, and generosity. I would venture to guess that these four words are attractive to you as well. I believe that we are drawn to leaders who care more about the flock than they do about their own agendas and ideas. Those are the leaders God has prepared for us here at Park Central. Men who will come along side Bruce and Chuck and not only continue the great work that was started so long ago, but bring new love and purpose to the work as well.
Frank Warren said, “If you want to be a leader, you’re going to end up frustrated in life, because very few people want to be led. But if you aim to be a servant, you’ll never be disappointed.”
My prayer is that Park Central will have an over abundance of servants, men and women who live like their Savior. This morning, are you being served or have you taken up the towel and basin to serve?
Does your heart posses these qualities of humility, honesty, unselfishness, and generosity? If not what are you allowing to stand in the way this morning that keeps you from living the life you were created to live?
Questions To Consider
Questions From Class
What are the blessing that come from being hospitable?
What are the different ways that an elder should be apt to teach?
Why would the use of wine be an important point for Paul to mention?
Questions from the Sermon
What quality do you find most attractive in a leader?
Why would humility be important in the life of a leader?
Why would humility be important in the life of a follower?
According to Psalm 15, would you be allowed to live in the Lord’s House?
What is keeping you from being the type of person you were created to be?