Servanthood: Cocky leaders need not apply
Shortly after coming to Holston Conference I wrote the following article based on the sermon I preached in the Service of Presentation. I hold the same convictions now with even greater passion.
God needs partners because God can't do the work alone.
God the creator God, the God who made heaven and earth, and the God of Jesus Christ this God invites you and me to be partners. This is no puny invitation.
The invitation is stamped: RSVP.
The question is, will you accept God's invitation anew, or for the first time? Christ's work is our work, and the task is staggering. God's dream for the human family is not complete:
- There are racial prejudices that we need to address.
- There are injustices that require our involvement.
- There are walls dividing us that must come down.
- There are broken lives that need healing.
- There are lost sons and daughters of God who need to be found.
- There are bruised and violated streams and forests that need restoration.
- There are more children in our country who die from violence, and need our protection, than soldiers who died in Vietnam.
God's creation is not finished, and he is desperately looking for partners to do this work. But if you are going to be a partner with God, you will need to be a servant. God doesn't need self-sufficient, cocky leaders who need constant ego massaging.
A servant of Christ rejects competitiveness in the church, relinquishes arrogance, ceases to jockey for position. A servant of Christ is not on a power trip, ego journey or control fling.
Jesus did not parade himself as the long-awaited Messiah. He made it his mission to reach out to the disadvantaged, marginalized and disenfranchised. He loved the dropouts, the cop-outs and washouts. He included the addicts, elitists, rebels and rejects. He embraced the lower class, middle class, upper class and people who had no class whatsoever!
Jesus was approachable, inviting and humble. He personified servanthood. We are called by God to be like Jesus. Jesus calls us to a life of compassion and tenderness, humility and gentleness, mercy and justice.
Servanthood is not an obsession with status symbols, the need for honor or hunger for praise. Servanthood is not church by committee. Servanthood is not prestige by title. Servanthood is not position by degrees. Arguing about who's in charge the laity or the clergy is not servanthood.
We will earn credibility with the unchurched when we practice our beliefs, demonstrate integrity, suffer alongside the hurting, and stop fighting over who's the most important or which committee has the veto power.
The size of our churches is not measurement of servanthood. What matters is the conviction that motivates us, the passion that drives us, and the compassion that shapes us.
Jesus always modeled servanthood.
Even when Jesus' approval rating dropped to less than one percent on crucifixion day even then, on the cross, forsaken and rejected, he still had enough compassion to cry out, Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.
What would it be like for the world to have a dose of that kind of Christianity today, revealed through us?
Servanthood is a prerequisite for partnership with God. It recognizes that Christ is the center, the head and heart of the church not the bishop, laity, clergy, nor the structure. The potency of the Gospel is not ultimately demonstrated in denominationalism, ecclesiasticism or clericalism, but in the spirit of Christ.
No person and no church is too small, too unlettered, too urbane, too rural, too urban, too poverty-stricken, too educated, but what they can be Christ for others.
The compelling question is: Are we convinced enough of Christ's mission to be servant-partners with God?