I Will Serve by Rick Burdette (With special thanks to Thom Rainer and his book, “I Will”)
I WILL – “I Will” Serve
Matthew 20:25-28 (pg. 690) October 25, 2015
My buddy Frank Cloud, one of our older members gave me a book the other day called “True North” by Gary Inrig…It’s about discovering God’s Way in a changing world…I haven’t finished it yet but when I read Chapter 5 entitled God’s Compass I thought… “Man, that’s right on advice for us all!”
Here’s how it starts:
In the world of country music, Alan Jackson has superstar status. Among more than sixty awards and honors, he was named Entertainer of the Year in 1995 by the Country Music Association and twice the Male Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. In a seven year period, an amazing twenty of his songs reached number one on the country music charts. He has sold more than twenty five million records and amassed a fortune of more than forty million dollars. He lives in a thirty thousand square foot mansion that contains most of the creature comforts known to man. Any reasonable accounting would have to consider Alan Jackson a successful man.
But appearances can be deceptive. In 1998, Alan Jackson found himself in deep personal trouble. His marriage to his high school sweetheart was on the rocks, and for the first time in his life he found himself in what he told a reporter from USA Today was “an almost suicidal depression…I kept trying to let everything else make me happy. Maybe that’s why I’m successful. I worked so hard to get all the stuff to make me happy. Then that didn’t do it. I actually got worse.
The Jacksons managed to work through their difficulties and renewed their vows as a special nineteenth anniversary celebration. But Alan Jackson wasn’t the first, and he won’t be the last, to discover that in the midst of public success, he was experiencing private failure in the things that mattered most. His life required a radical course alteration if he was to get to where he wanted to go, not to where he was headed. For many of us, the danger isn’t that we will fail to reach our goals but that we will have the wrong goals. The worst failure may be to succeed in things that don’t really matter, to arrive at the wrong harbor.
There’s this continuous thought for each of us…it goes something like this… “If I can just get what I want then I’ll be happy.”
We can’t help it…it’s part of our sinful nature…we long for a Lazyboy recliner much more than we do a cross. We long for the power, popularity and funds to be King’s of our own empire.
But Alan Jackson, Solomon and a multitude of others who got just that, will tell you “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired, I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor. And this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done…and what I had worked to achieve, everything was meaningless…like chasing after the wind…nothing was gained.” (Ecc. 2:10-11 p. 461)
Satan always leads us to try to be our own King….Selfish pursuits are always held out as the answer for happiness and satisfaction…but it’s a lie…from the King of Liars. It’s a mirage in the desert. It looks like water for those dying of thirst…but it’s just an illusion. The reward we thought we wanted ends up being a huge disappointment.
It happens with people in the Church all time…the focus turns to themselves…their wants, preferences and likes…a serve me mentality…but our King has a different plan for His people.
I. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
All you have to do is look at the encounter between Jesus and the mother of James and John to know.
She wants what every mother wants for her boys…success…power…she wants them to be kings…rulers.
“Jesus, promise me that each of my sons will share power with you…let one sit to your right…one to your left in your Kingdom.”
Jesus tells her, “you have no idea what my Kingdom is all about.”
And the other 10 disciples become “indignant.” “Indignant” is a mixture of anger, jealousy and pride. These worldly emotions wash over the group…because they probably wanted the same seats. They wanted to be kings too…Don’t we all?
But Jesus loves these men…He knows it’s a teachable moment…so He calls them over and says “You know the unbelieving Kings domineer their subjects…men with lots of power who make people do what they want…It can’t be like that with you…just the opposite…if you want real greatness become a servant…That’s what I’ve done…I came to serve others…not have them serve me…In fact I’m going to die to pay for their debt.”
Those are the clearest words ever spoken about what it means to be a Christ follower in a self centered world….what it means to move from “I want others to serve me” to “I WILL serve others.”
Thom Rainer in his book “I Will” says I hope you won’t be too offended but let me put these words in a modern vernacular:
“Hey church members: I know that the world says put yourself first. Look after number one. But that’s not the way you are supposed to do it. Stop complaining about the music style and what you want. Stop demanding church leaders to do thing the way you would like them to be. Stop trying to get your way in church business meetings. Instead, put others first. Put your desires last. Become a servant instead of a whiner and complainer.”
The example for serving in God’s kingdom is set by the King Himself. He said,
“I came to serve…I came to give my life for you.” Our King’s service led Him to die on a cross…He served us by dying for us.
It’s time His people, Church people, stop being “I want” members and become “I Will” servants.
It’s exactly what Paul told us… “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in Humility consider others as more important than yourself…stop looking after your own interests and start looking after the needs of others…Have the same attitude as Jesus.” (Phil. 2:3-5)
We are to serve….That is the foundation for joy…and it’s what Church members should do.
II. HOW ABOUT A 90 DAY EXPERIMENT?
A test…for 90 days we will ask nothing for ourselves from the Church…and for 90 days we won’t complain in any way. And we’ll commit 2 hours a week to serving someone else…I know because of age, physical limitations and other factors this service won’t be the same….maybe you write encouraging letters to other members…maybe you visit and serve the homebound…maybe you commit to answer the phone at Assurance or another local ministry…maybe you help clean the church building or grounds…you pick up trash in the community…you might work in the nursery or preschool…for 90 days you commit to be others focused…and you commit yourself to withhold negativity and complaining.
I know we’ll never get 100% participation…but if 100 people made that commitment for 90 days.
This Church would have members serving like Jesus for over 2,600 hours in this 90 day period.
It would revolutionize our Church and move us from people demanding service to Christ followers acting like our King, serving others, instead of country club members who complain about not getting what their dues paid for…we’d become a MASH unit of grace filled with joy serving wounded people.
That’s the question we have to answer in our commitment to Christ…do we want people to serve us…or will we serve others?
A first grade teacher asked her students, “What do you do to help at home?”
One little girl said, “I dry the dishes.”
One of the boys said, “I sweep the floor.”
Another one said, “I feed and water the dog.”
Every student in the class had something to contribute except for one boy sitting in the back. The teacher looked at him and asked, “What do you do to help out at home?”
He said, “I stay out of the way.”
That’s a problem in the Church. Too many church members just stay out of the way. A Gallup poll discovered that only 10% of church members are active in any kind of personal ministry in their church. 50% said that they have no desire or interest in serving in any ministry.
Why? Because there is still a belief that Christianity can be about my salvation only…I can do something one time, like say a prayer or get baptized and still keep control of my life…I can get my “I want” ticket punched to heaven without any real spiritual change to my soul.
Funny how scripture explains the difference between our lives before salvation and after. It’s dramatic and very very clear.
ROMANS 6:3-7 (p. 785)
Death, burial…RESURRECTION. The difference between a dead body and active new life.
Jesus tells Nicodemus it’s like “a new birth.” “I tell you they are born again.” (Jn. 3:3) “No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and spirit.” (Jn. 3:5)
John the beloved Apostle compares it to the difference between light and darkness. “If we claim to have fellowship with God and yet “walk in darkness,” we lie and do not live in the truth….If we walk in the light as He is in the light…we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His son purifies us from all sin.” (1 Jn. 1:6-7)
We cannot move from being “I want” people to “I Will” servants in our own power…it takes a spiritual awakening to our sin and a rebirth…It takes the light being turned on for a darkness to be pierced…It takes a death, burial and resurrection…He’s for us…and ours for Him.
III. IT’S TIME FOR AN AWAKENING AND CHANGE!
Thom Rainer writes in the book “I Will:”
There has been a slow but discernible change in many of our churches. We have retreated into a self-serving shell and made church mostly about us.
It is time for a change.
It is time for a change that won’t come from a denominational bureaucracy or a plug-and-play program.
It is time for church members to stop nitpicking the small issues in the church and to discover the needs and hurts where we can serve.
It is time for a change among church members around the world to seek to serve rather than seek to be served.
It will be a revolution! Will you join it?
If so, consider this commitment prayerfully and with total sincerity:
I will serve.
How about 90 days where God and His family business comes 1st? 3 months where we follow the example of our King…or make Him our King today…regardless of our age, physical abilities…or schedules.
[One of our ladies who was serving the other night was asked, “why would you do this…why would you serve us? Her response “It’s what Jesus would do.”