BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Now a centurion had a bond servant who was held in honor and highly valued by him who was sick and at the point of death (Luke 7:2 Amplified Bible).
If you compare Luke 7:2 and 1Samuel 30:13, you will see two servants, two masters, different contexts, same problem – sickness– but different attitudes by the two masters.
In Luke 7, the servant of the centurion, who was sick to the point of death, is described as being held in honour and highly valued by his master, the centurion. The Amplified Bible says, “Now a centurion had a bond servant who was held in honor and highly valued by him who was sick and at the point of death (Luke 7:2 Amplified Bible).
The New Century Version says the servant was very important to him. To be highly valued means to be greatly appreciated, esteemed, treasured, cherished or loved.
The boss, an army officer, demonstrated how much he held this servant in honour and highly valued him, by sending the elders of his city to Jesus to plead with him to come to heal him. Jesus listened to the plea of the elders that this centurion was worthy of his request being granted because he loved their nation, and had built for them a synagogue (verses 4-5).
The servant saved from death
Jesus headed for the centurion’s home, but before He got there, the centurion had sent he sent his friends to Him that he should not trouble Himself, for he was not worthy of Jesus coming under his roof (verse 6).
Did you see the centurion’s humility? The elders said he was worthy, but he said of himself that he was not worthy. He told Jesus he was a man under authority and with authority. He commanded people and his orders were carried out. He believed Jesus did not need to come under his roof before his servant would be healed; all Jesus needed to do was to speak one word and his servant would be healed. Jesus was marveled and said he had not seen such a faith as that in Israel. The servant was healed. However, notice that it is not even recorded that Jesus said anything to the effect that the servant should be healed. What a faith!
What is central to this message is the statement that this centurion’s servant was held in honor and highly valued by him and did not want him to die. The Bible says he was sick unto death. But he meant so much to the centurion that he did not want him to die. This was a senior military officer that you would expect to be tough and not emotional. Being a soldier, he must have seen many people die in the past, but he did not want this particular servant to die.
The servant abandoned to die
If you contrast this account with the one in 1Samuel 30, you will see a marked difference. The servant here, an Egyptian, was sick while on a military campaign with his master, but was abandoned by his master, apparently to die. That was heartless. At the time David’s men found him, he had not eaten for three days! They gave him food and he was revived. He gave them the details that made it possible for David and his men to pursue the invaders and recover all that they had taken away from the camp of David.
The pertinent questions here are: Why was this Amalekite master so insensitive to his servant’s condition that he abandoned him? Could it be that the servant had been a problem to him? Or could it be that he was a wicked master? If he had held him in honour or considered him a highly valued servant, would he have behaved like that? Was the problem with the Egyptian servant or his Amalekite master?
The truth is that there are bad employers and bad employees, bad leaders and bad followers, bad masters and bad servants. Sometimes, a good servant could be serving a bad master, who would not reciprocate his faithfulness and industry. A bad leader could have a good follower and it could be the other way round.
One cannot hastily conclude that the sick servant in 1 Samuel 30 was a bad servant. In fact, the suggestion we have is that the master could have been a problem to him, because when David asked if he could lead him to the company that invaded his camp, he begged David and his men to promise that they would not kill him or hand him over to his master. He never wanted to go back to that master.
It turned out that abandoning this sick servant was a big error by his master. If his master had been kind to him and had not abandoned him, David and his men would not have found him. And they would not have gotten from him the information on the whereabouts of the invading troop. David and his men caught up with them, defeated them and recovered all they had carried away from their camp and all their loot.
A highly valued employee is a highly favoured employee
My main focus is to show you, based on God’s Word, how to be an honoured and highly valued employee anywhere you find yourself. I shall try to avoid dealing with the aspect of the masters/employers/bosses. What are the things a person can do that can make him receive the kind of attention and treatment the centurion’s servant received from his master? But I must admit, as I have said earlier, it is not every time that a boss will reciprocate appropriately as this centurion did. There are many selfish and insensitive masters or bosses. Nevertheless, don’t worry; God is the judge, and He is a righteous judge.
Always remember this truth: a highly valued employee is a highly favoured employee. Proverbs 14:35 says, “The king’s favor is toward a wise servant, but his wrath is against him who causes shame” (New King James Version). Joseph was a man who enjoyed the favour of his master and favour promoted him. He made him overseer of his house, and put under his authority everything he had. He didn’t know what he had. The only decision he had to make was what he wanted to eat (Genesis 39:1-6).
Similarly, Joseph enjoyed favour in the prison. The chief jailer put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. Joseph took care of everything; the chief jailer didn’t have to worry about anything (Genesis 39:21-23).
What to do to become a highly valued employee
1.Know your work. Know what is expected of you and how to do it. This is the beginning of offering satisfactory service. You must know what is expected of you and how to accomplish it. Some employees are busy doing the wrong things; and when asked why, they would say, “I thought you…” No, don’t “think” like that. Some do the right thing but in a wrong way.
God told Moses about the building of the Tabernacle, “I want the people of Israel to build me a sacred residence where I can live among them. You must make this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the plans I will show you” (Exodus 25:8-9 New Living Translation). Find out what is expected of you and do it the right way. Know your work. Don’t let your boss be complaining about your work.
2. Know your boss. Every employee must not only understand the details of his work; he must be a good student of his boss. He must study him to know his expectations of him and his idiosyncrasies, his preferences, his dislikes, etc.
Never compare your current boss with your former boss! You are not serving your former boss now but your present boss! Therefore, adapt yourself to him; don’t try to change him.
In Matthew 25:24, that wicked and slothful servant who hid his one talent claimed to know his boss, but was only accusing him to excuse his laziness. He lied against him: “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate’” (New Living Translation). Was he calling his boss a thief? Is someone who harvests crops he didn’t plant and gathers crops he didn’t cultivate not a thief?
3. Be diligent and work as though you are working for the LORD. Have the mentality that you are serving God though you’re serving your boss and your clients or customers. Be a servant of God at your duty post. Pastors are not the only servants of God. Everybody should be wherever he is working.
Ephesians 6:7-8 says, “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free” (New Living Translation). Beyond the reward that an employer gives, God has a way of rewarding those who work as though they are working for Him.
Don’t be lazy. There are many employees who are lazy and wonder why they are not loved by their bosses. It is not only their bosses that are not pleased with them; their hardworking colleagues are not either. How can you be lazy and think you can enjoy the favour of your boss and colleagues? The employer of a lazy person is already thinking about how to get rid of him! At the fullness of time or at the most convenient time, he will lose his place. Prayer won’t avert it because God hates slothfulness.
The Bible warns severally against slothfulness; the consequences of laziness are unpleasant. According to Proverbs 10:4, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (New King James Version). Proverbs 12:24 says, “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave” (New Living Translation). Similarly, Proverbs 13:4 says, “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper and be satisfied” (New Living Translation).
A lazy staff may think he is cheating his employer, but he is actually destroying himself. A lazy person cannot excel in his work. He can never get promoted to stand before distinguished people. Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men” (New King James Version).
4. Go the extra mile. Do more than what is expected of you. A boss will always take notice of the employee that goes the extra mile to get the job done as against the one who does only what is convenient or only what is required of him. Some people work till closing time while some work till the job for the day is finished. The boss is taking note of how each employee is doing his work. Are you doing the minimal or you’re going the extra mile?
To go the extra mile means that you’re ready to sacrifice, you’re ready to go further after others have stopped. Such persons are usually criticized by others; they’re given negative labels just because they’re prepared to do more than the rest. Those who go the extra mile are always in the minority, and they’re not only recognized by their bosses, but favour flows in their direction.
In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, the Macedonian churches went the extra mile – they gave beyond their ability; they gave beyond their means. Despite the great trial of affliction and the deep abundance of poverty they were going through, they also had abundance of joy and gave beyond their limits; they begged Paul again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem. No wonder this good deed did not escape the attention of Paul. Those who go the extra mile will almost always be remembered and rewarded.
5. Exhibit the right attitudes. It is one thing to be diligent; it is another thing to exhibit the right attitudes at work. No employee, who manifests wrong attitudes to work, will be valued and highly regarded by his employer or boss, no matter how hard working he is.
Wrong attitudes such as grumbling, complaining, lateness, absenteeism, gossiping, backbiting, eye service, etc. are counter-productive. Colossians 3:22-24 says, “Servants, obey in all things those who are your masters according to the flesh, not just when they are looking, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (World English Bible).
Don’t abuse sick leave; don’t have a reputation for endless break-time; don’t be known for defaulting in meeting deadlines for assignments, etc.
6. Be loyal. A loyal employee is a faithful employee, and no boss or employer will hate such a person. Make sure you offer faithful service; you cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).
1Corinthians 4:2 says, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (New King James Version). Stewardship is synonymous with faithfulness. “And the Lord said, ‘Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Luke 12:42-43 New King James Version). A faithful employee is blessed.
Moses was faithful in his entire house as a servant, but Jesus was faithful over His own house as a Son (Hebrews 3:5-6). Don’t be a disloyal employee and think you will be held in honour and highly valued, appreciated, esteemed or cherished.
7. Honour your boss in his presence and absence. Blessed is the servant who honours his master for he shall be treated with honour by his boss or employer and those under him. The Bible expects nothing less than honour from a servant towards his master. If you cannot honour your employer, don’t work for him. Honour is an obligation that a servant owes his master. A servant who dishonours his boss should look for another job. Nevertheless, respect should be reciprocal, give-and-take. “Let all who are servants under the yoke give all honour to their masters, so that no evil may be said against the name of God and his teaching. And let those whose masters are of the faith have respect for them because they are brothers, working for them the more readily, because those who take part in the good work are of the faith and are dear. Give orders and teaching about these things” (1Timothy 6:1-2 Bible in Basic English). Did you see again that the reason to honour the masters is because of God?
8. Work to please your boss. A wise employee will work to please his master because he knows, ultimately, it is his opinion about his work that matters. It is not what pleases a staff about his service that is important but what pleases his master. I am not saying that someone should go to do a job that displeases him. What I am saying is that once you accept an employment, your priority should be to please your master. If you are pleased with your work, but he is not, it is as if you have done nothing. 2 Timothy 2:4 says a soldier, when he is with the army, keeps himself free from the business of this life so that he may be pleasing to him who has enlisted him into his army. Verse 5 adds that if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The athlete doesn’t set the rules.
I often say that you don’t pass examinations by trying your best, sweating and asking for more sheets of paper to write your answers, which may be irrelevant things that won’t fetch you good marks. They may earn you the anger of the one marking your scripts!
Passing examinations is easy – just write the correct answer! If you write the expected answer no one can fail you. If you are dissatisfied with your mark and you’re convinced you deserve more, you can protest. Through this, some have had their scripts reviewed and got more marks.
One way to ensure that you work to please your master is to work according to instructions; don’t do what displeases him. Seek to satisfy him. Don’t violate his instructions. Titus 2:9 says, “Servants are to be under the authority of their masters, pleasing them in all things, without argument” (Bible in Basic English). Did you see that? A servant is expected to please his master in all things – all things that pertain to his work. He should satisfy him, comply with his demand and avoid arguing with them.
1 Peter 2:18 also asks servants to be submissive to their masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. God knows how to deal with bosses who are harsh. While you are carrying out the assignment your employer or your boss has given you, do it according to his command. Luke 14:22 says, “And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room’” (New King James Version). That servant would be appreciated because he did as he was commanded, not as he wished.
9. Don’t share limelight with him; wait for your turn. Don’t try to upstage your boss, even if you think you are better than him or some people have said so. Don’t let what people say to appreciate you go to your head and sow a seed of rebellion in you.
Let your boss find it comfortable to lead you or be your master. However, I must admit again that there is nothing you can do to help a master who is insecure; he will always see you as a threat even when you are not looking for his seat. That was the problem with Saul. As much as David behaved himself wisely before him, he still wanted to kill him (1 Samuel 18:5, 11- 15, 30, 19:2, 9-10).
Elisha served Elijah and became great, but it was not Elijah that made him great; God did (2 Kings 3:11). Though God told Elijah to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, prophet in his stead, there is no record in the Bible where he actually did this (1 Kings 19:16). Rather, we read that he wanted to depart the earth without telling him, obviously trying to prove his loyalty. But because Elisha was glued to him, Elijah told him to ask for what he should do for him before he would be taken from him. When Elisha did, Elijah gave him the condition for granting his request (2 Kings 2:1-14). Elisha had to qualify himself to secure the double portion of Elijah’s spirit. He passed Elijah’s test.
Joshua served Moses and became great; it was not Moses that made him great, God did (Exodus 24:13, 33:11). Moses did not even know Joshua would be the one that would succeed him; he did not choose him, God did, and commanded Moses concerning him. Moses had no choice in the matter (Numbers 27:15-23). Joshua had qualified himself as a minister, a servant of Moses, and God elevated him. Therefore, Moses, obeying God, laid his hand on him and he was full of wisdom (Deuteronomy 34:9).
Jesus made a paradoxical statement that anyone who would be the greatest would be the servant of all (Luke 22:26). In reality, no one can make another person great, but greatness comes through serving others, which also contributes to the greatness of the people being served. That is not considered wisdom by the world. But the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:25). Do this and you will be a highly valued staff.
10. Imbibe team spirit. To be an employee that is held in honour and highly valued, you must imbibe team spirit. Be a team player. You are probably not the only one serving. Therefore, if you pass in all the points discussed earlier but fail in this last point, you may not be a blessing to the organization or the person you serve. If you cannot cope and work well with others, your employer, once he is persuaded that the problem is with you and not others, would rather do away with you than send away the rest for you to be comfortable. Your boss and the work place do not exist for you alone; you must improve your interpersonal skills. You must avoid competitive spirit, strife, quarrel, etc. and get along with fellow employees, cooperate with them.
3 John 9-10 says, “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church” (New King James Version). This man, Diotrephes, was not a team player and his action is condemnable.
Romans 16:17 warns that we should mark those who cause divisions among believers and avoid them. 1 Corinthians 1:10 urges believers to speak the same thing, and avoid divisions among them, but be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. Envy, strife and division are marks of carnality which a child of God must avoid in his service (1 Corinthians 3:3).
Conclusion: You need to examine your life and service in these areas I have discussed. There ought not to be a difference between your mindset for service to God in church or in the Kingdom of God and outside it (secular). God is interested in both and will reward you. You should be a servant of God everywhere you work. That is why the Bible says you should serve your masters in the flesh (secular), including the harsh ones, as if you are serving the Lord. “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17 New King James Version).
If you’re not born again, I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, soul-winning church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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