BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Leadership is a call to service, not a platform to lord it over those one leads. Real leaders give themselves. Bible-based service is not selfish but selfless. Real service involves troubling oneself to make comfortable those one is leading.
Everybody wants to be great, but few people want to serve. Yet, the road to greatness is service. There is a faulty thinking that when you serve somebody, it means that person is better than you. Or that if you serve somebody, he would become better than you. But this is not necessarily so. That you serve somebody does not mean that he is better than you or would become better than you.
A boss can serve a subordinate and vice versa. When a boss thinks otherwise, he manifests pride or ignorance, and such a boss would remain just a boss, not an effective leader. Superiors, who understand what true leadership is, don’t have problem serving those they are better than, because therein lies their greatness. When a leader feels too big to serve those under him, he has come to the peak of his leadership ladder, and a decline of his influence and power sets in. The Bible tells Christians to serve one another by love (Galatians 5:13b).
I have discovered that where there is no pride and ignorance, it is usually not difficult for people to serve one another. Where people also feel secure, it is easy for them to serve others.
In John 13:1-17, Jesus, the Son of God washed the feet of the disciples, a duty usually that by the lowliest servant in the Jewish society. Peter did not see that as something he was prepared to do when Jesus wanted to wash his feet. Initially, he would not allow Him until Jesus said if He did not wash his feet, he had no part with him. After washing their feet, Jesus said, “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:13-15 NKJV).
Though the washing of the feet of the disciples was a symbol of spiritual cleansing, it was also a lesson in leadership – a leader is a servant. There are three things that Jesus knew, which made Him to serve humbly. These you also must know to be able to serve. Why could Jesus take the office of a slave though He is the Son of God.
1.Jesus knew the Father had given all things into His hands (John 13:3). Jesus could afford to come so low to wash the feet of the disciples because He knew that God had already given all things into His hands. Though it might not appear to be so, He knew that God had already given all things into His hands. The fact that the Managing Director of a company decides to personally serve drinks to his staff that come to his house does not remove the fact that they are his subordinates. If he feels he has now become their messenger because of that occasion, something must be wrong with him.
It s a wrong understanding of leadership to think that once you become a leader, you have many people to serve you, leaving little or nothing for you to do. No. People serve a leader to help him serve them better, to help him perform his primary functions. It is not to make him see himself as a god.
Jesus was secure because He knew everything had been given into His hands. He did not feel threatened by anything. Ephesians 1:22 says God put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.
Abraham was also a secure man. That was why he could give Lot the permission to choose first the portion of land he wanted and go there, while he would go another direction. Lot jumped at this offer and chose all the plain of Jordan, the well watered portion; Abraham chose to dwell in the land of Canaan (Genesis 13: 8-12). But the point is this: everything, including what Lot, in greed chose, had already been given to Abraham by God (Genesis 13:14-17). It was just a matter of time for everything to be possessed by him. Knowing this, Abraham could afford to be calm. He was to save Lot two times thereafter (Genesis 14:14-16, 18:20-33).
Jesus could wash the feet of the disciples, serving them at that lowest level because He knew that all things had been given to Him. Do you know you will be able to serve anywhere you find yourself if you have the same understanding? Do you know that what applies to Jesus also applies to you? Do you know that God has already given all things into your hand, too?
If you are born again, the Bible says you are seated with Him at the right hand of the Father, far above principality and power where everything has been given unto him and all things are under his feet. When God gave everything into the hand of Jesus, you were in Jesus. So He gave everything to you, too (Ephesians 1:20-21, 2:5-6). You have been given the same authority that Jesus was given. That you do not know it does not mean it is not true. Understanding this will change your mentality about service. You will serve with dignity, because you know the authority you have. You know what has been entrusted into your hand. You won’t struggle with anyone. You won’t envy anyone.
2. Jesus knew that He came from God (John 13:3). Jesus knew that He was not of this earth. He knew His source; therefore, He served. He knew that serving does not reduce who He was. Do you know you came from God and it is not what happens to you or does not happen to you that determine who you are? You may find yourself doing odd jobs now but that should not confuse you about who you really are.
Joseph was in prison but that did not make him feel like a prisoner. Don’t let your circumstances wrongly describe you to yourself. You came from God. He is your maker. He has good thoughts concerning you, thoughts of peace and not of evil and to take you to an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11). You are not here alone, going through what you are going through. His presence is with you if you’ve accepted the Lordship of Jesus (Isaiah 43:1-2). That is why you cannot fail, no matter the lowest level you are now, and no matter how mean the person you are serving under now is.
Knowing that you came from God should make you established in the love of God for you. God loves you notwithstanding all circumstances of life. Be established in His love for you personally; keep yourself in the love of God for you. Don’t believe anything otherwise (Jude 21).
3. Jesus knew that He would go back to God (John 13:3). He knew His sojourn on earth was not the end of everything. He knew He came from God and would return to God. He knew that He was accountable to God for His life on earth. He knew He could not live His life to do His own will. He knew that His life was not supposed to be lived to glorify Himself. He knew that his Father was still working, and he must work, too (John 5:17).
The truth applies to you too. You came from God and you will return to Him to give account of everything you have done on the earth (Romans 14:12, Matthew 12: 36). Knowing this should make you sober to live your life in such a way that He will be pleased with you. You are not to live your life for yourself. Life is not a gift; it is a stewardship. You will go back to God one day. It has been given unto man to die once and after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Service keeps us humble. Don’t always let who you are, go to your head; let it not inflate your ego. There is always somebody better than you! Stoop low and wash somebody’s feet. Don’t be too conscious of your position.
These three truths that Jesus knew gave Him the confidence to serve people in a humble manner. The knowledge of these things would not only build in you a robust self esteem, it would also keep you humble to be able to serve others without difficulty, especially those under you. You know that those you serve may not reward you either sufficiently or at all, but God the rewarder will do, when you return to him. It does not end here on earth (Hebrews 11:6).
The Bible says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. (Colossians 3:23). The Bible also says you should do whatsoever you do; do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10: 31). Every service you render to another man or organization is actually to the Lord, and not to the man or the institution. When you begin to view service from this perspective, you will be free to offer service, because, ultimately, it is not man that will reward you. Man may compensate you, but the Lord will reward you for every service, including the one you do as a civil servant or public servant.
Colossians 3:24 says, “Whatever you do, do it readily, as to the Lord and not to men; being certain that the Lord will give you the reward of the heritage: for you are the servants of the Lord Christ” (Bible in Basic English). Shouldn’t you do your work better knowing that God will reward you one day for your service in your place of work, and not your service in church alone? Will you allow pride to hinder you from serving others whom you are not under compulsion to serve?
Pride or self-exaltation is not the way of the kingdom of God. The ladder to greatness is humility, from which flows the desire to serve. It is not through the rat race of selfish competition. (Luke 14:11, 18:14; James 4:6, 10; 1Peter 5: 2-6; Philippians 2:1-3).
God is against self exaltation, which is one of the major reasons many people hold back service (Matthew 23: 12, 11:23; 2Corinthians 10:17-18; Ezekiel 31:10-14; Obadiah 3-4). “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2: 5-7 New King James Version). If you read this scripture up to verse 10, you will see that through service flowing out of humility, Jesus became the greatest.
To be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus teaches us that we have to humble ourselves like little children (Matthew 18:1-4). You must be converted and be like little children. What are some things we can learn from little children.
1.They never feel proud to serve others. A child may be lazy, but you can hardly accuse him of pride, except some children of rich people, whose parents have employed adults to be serving. But generally, children are not proud to serve others, especially their mates. They don’t see anything wrong in it. It is as they grow up, that they consciously or unconsciously learn from adults the pride not to serve others. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4 New King James Version).
2. They don’t have the mindset that serving others reduces them. That is why you see a child do something for another child. Sometimes, it is the parent that will ask him, “Are you his servant?” Children are so sincere about service.
3. They don’t have inordinate ambition, love for possessions or greed. Because they are not in competition with their mates, they freely serve. Again, it is as they grow up that they pick up negative habits.
Other things you can learn from children are things like innocence, ability to easily forgive, etc.
Never consider service as degrading either in the house of God, business, family or social setting, no matter the area of service. It is your pathway to greatness. Joshua served Moses and the Lord promoted him (Numbers 27: 15-23; Deuteronomy 1:37-38). Elisha was Elijah’s servant, and received the double portion of the spirit that was on Elijah (2 Kings 2).
Peter learnt this servant leadership from Jesus, and taught it later. “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5: 2-4 New King James Version).
Leadership is service. Don’t use your title or office to lord it over people, but to serve them (Matthew 23: 8-12). Christians in leadership in the Church or outside the church should be careful not to imbibe the leadership style prevalent in the world. Matthew 20:25 shows the world’s model of leadership: they behave as lords over those under them; they are high-handed and oppress. They rule, dominate, drive and control unlike servant leadership which Jesus taught several years ago but has begun to gain popularity in leadership studies in the secular world. Jesus is the original author of servant leadership; it is a Bible doctrine. This is the model of the kingdom of God.
Every Christian leader whether a bishop, prophet, pastor, evangelist, and teacher, workers and members should take note of those three things that Jesus knew and upon which influenced His service. They should emulate Jesus, forget about who their titles and wash the feet of one another and the feet of the people God has given them and wipe them. In other words, they should serve. This will cure us of pride which God hates wherever and in whosoever He finds it. Your focus should not be to be served, but to serve. It is a dangerous thing to find oneself promoted above service! God never promotes anyone above service. “When a man thinks he is something big, he is really nothing at all; he is fooling himself” (Galatians 6:3 The New Testament: A New Translation).
If you’ve not yet given your life to Jesus and you’ll like to do so, you need 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 church. There, you will be taught how to grow in the Lord and how to discover and fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I’m 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 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’m saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I congratulate you if you’ve said that prayer sincerely. You are now a child of God. May the Lord make you a Cedar Christian. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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