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Moving From “I Am” to “I Will” by Rick Burdette (And special Thanks to Thom Rainer and his book, “I WILL”)

Philippians 2:5-2:8

I WILL – Moving from “I Am” to “I Will”
Philippians 2:5-8 (pg. 819) October 4, 2015


It was October 18, 1980…35 years ago, almost exactly when I went into a seafood restaurant named Peter’s Pier 4 with Kari Pascal…we’d met in a church in Stuart Florida…2 years earlier. The first time we ever laid eyes on each other was in a Sunday School class. I still remember the lesson…it was about Jacob and his flock…how God worked to bless him. After Church when my brother in law tried to introduce us she was so embarrassed she ran across the parking lot and just waved at me. She was wearing a peach sundress.

2 years later as we walked into that restaurant I could hardly breathe. I had given one of the waiters a diamond ring to bring out with the key lime pie, her favorite (probably not the smartest thing I’d ever done). That ring had cost me my class ring, a summer of work and 25 more payments at Leroy’s Jewelry Store.

When he finally brought out the pie…with the ring…I got down on one knee and asked “Kari, will you be the grandmother of my grandchildren…will you marry me?”

And to my utter amazement she said “Yes.”

It’s been 35 years and I am still amazed that she said yes…I can be stubborn, impetuous, and silly at times. I can get so busy with ministry stuff that I miss family things…but through it all Kari has been my constant companion…my best friend…my biggest cheerleader.

She has become the grandmother “Nana” to my grandchildren…She has been faithful to me in richer or poorer, better and worse, sickness and health.

She is the most loyal person I’ve ever met…She is a “Till death do us part woman.” That has been her attitude since Day 1.

She said “yes” and I’m still amazed at her love…She made a decision about her attitude and that attitude has made all the difference in our marriage.

So let me ask you a question about another union…It involves a groom and his bride as well:


From Thom Rainer’s “I Will”
[Have you ever met a GCM…A grumpy church member? They are the church member most likely to complain. They are the constant and persistent critics of the pastor, the staff, leadership, and any other things they don’t like. Almost every conversation is started with “why aren’t you doing this…or I want to tell you something that bothers me. They are the members who view the Church as an organization where they pay their dues to get their perks and privileges. And they are grumpy and divisive when they don’t.]

This series of messages is about what we should “do” in our Church…but if you are not doing the right things with the right attitude you will become legalistic, judgmental, frustrated and critical and burn out.

But if we have the right attitude, the right “heart,” doing becomes natural. It becomes joyous. If you have the right biblically directed attitude you will experience joy in Church membership.

I will openly acknowledge that I have many shortcomings, our staff and leadership are not perfect…but we serve and do anyway…we are so grateful for what God has done for us through Jesus.

So what exactly does the right attitude look like?

1. The Right Attitude: “I AM A UNIFYING CHURCH MEMBER.”


[My favorite thing that’s ever been on television was a miniseries about the 101st Airborne Div. called “Band of Brothers.” It traces this division from when they were called up…to the end of the war…but it’s the love, the unity…the bond that captivates me…The title comes from this statement by a German General while addressing his defeated troops…it’s a quote from Henry the 5th while addressing his troops…“From this day until the ending of the world we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For today he who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”]

Unity is the band that holds any group together…whether it’s the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the 101st Airborne, or a family. And it’s the band that holds churches together too.

But here’s the essential truth…you have to choose to be a part of that band if unity is to exist. Every part of the group has to choose to put the group before his or her own needs. It only works for individuals who have the right attitude.

Paul emphasized this when he wrote to the churches. In Ephesians 4:1-3 he says:

EPHESIANS 4:1-3 (p. 815)

Unity doesn’t just happen accidentally, it requires humility…“This means we view others of more importance than ourselves,” Gentleness…which means we control our anger and show kindness to others…even when they are mean-spirited. Unity requires patience…This means we put up with a lot! Even in our frustration when someone has the wrong attitude and behavior…unity requires “acceptance of one another in love.” We don’t condone sinful attitudes and behavior…but we show a lot of grace.

But I have to be honest…I think of some people I’ve encountered in this faith journey and I think – “NO WAY.”

[I was preaching one time and I dropped my Bible to illustrate “the law of gravity” and the next day I had someone visit me. He was extremely angry…and said I had almost committed an unpardonable sin by treating the Word of God that way….I shared truth with him about “the law” and “grace” and how ironic I though this meeting was…but being humble, gentle, patient and accepting was extremely hard.]

But when I remember that “I am the dog rescued from the pound”…when I remember Jesus died for my sin…and how I have been forgiven a debt beyond measure…I remember His grace…and in His strength I can seek unity….

The 2nd right attitude is


These verses say we are to seek the same attitude as Christ…a sacrificial attitude that led Him to a death by crucifixion.

When we sacrifice ourselves for something more important to us than ourselves we are acting like Jesus.

[My dad was 19 when he stepped on a landmine in WWII…it blew his left leg off below the knee and severely damaged his right. He wore an artificial leg his entire life. I never knew anything different…Kids would come over and see dad’s leg leaning against his dresser and be shocked. “What happened to your dad’s leg?” And I’d say “What do you mean?” I thought every dad had one leg. People would often ask him… “How’d you lose your leg?” and He’d respond, “I didn’t lose it…I gave it.”]

I’m pretty sure my dad’s leg was important to him, but he sacrificed it for his country, for his family, and for freedom…things more important to him.

The greatest joy comes when we put others before ourselves…whether it’s older members who sacrifice for a future generation or God’s people in ministry loving lost people in our community…It’s the attitude we’re called to have for unity…it was a powerful force 2,000 years ago…and it still is today.

The 3rd right attitude for Unity is

3. The Right Attitude: “I AM A PRAYERFUL CHURCH MEMBER.”

The Apostle Paul knew about the power of prayer in the Church…He wrote to the Church in Colossi:

COLOSSIANS 1:9-10 (p. 821)

Having an attitude of prayer is absolutely essential for unity…and our spiritual health.

Paul knows that leaders are especially open to Satan’s attacks…and its “praying continually” that keeps us “aware” and “alert.”

He writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:7 and says, “The pastor or overseer must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.”

The word “trap” is rare in the Bible. Traps are set on purpose…it’s a strategic and powerful plan for Satan to take down leaders. If leaders fall, the outside world takes notice…It’s a powerful, intentional threat.

So how do we fight back? How do we respond?

It certainly can’t be in our own strength and wisdom…We fight this spiritual reality with spiritual strength…Prayer!

Immediately after Paul commands the Church to put on the full armor of God to fight spiritual warfare he finishes with an admonition in prayer… “pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)

Prayer unifies, protects, provides wisdom and strength…and it’s absolutely an essential attitude for God’s people, the Church.

The final right attitude is:

4. The Right Attitude: “I AM A JOYFUL CHURCH MEMBER.”

Have you ever noticed that grateful people…are joyful people? When Paul wrote to the Philippian church he tied the spirit of joy to an attitude of thanksgiving…Listen:

PHILIPPIANS 4:4-7 (p. 820)

Paul shoots straight with us…If we are to have joy in our lives we must be gentle and gracious. We are to pray instead of worry. And as we pray we are to pray with an attitude of gratitude.

All of us have been around grumpy people…Almost every conversation turns into the subject they don’t like or something they’re disappointed in…it sucks the life out of you.

But everyone of us have been around joyful and thankful Church members…They seem to always be grateful and encouraging…you feel lighter and better when you’ve been in their presence.

One is grumpy…one is joyful…one tears apart…one unifies…It’s all a matter of attitude

Isn’t it time we move from “I am” to “I will?”

Our attitudes determine who we are and how we’re known. I am joyous…I am angry…I am jealous…our attitudes are the foundations of our actions. If I’m a joyful person I’ll be encouraging…If I’m an angry person I’ll be critical. Let me end by returning to my opening story about Kari.

[Being the baby of the family can be dangerous….my brother’s a decade older…my sister 7 years older…I grew up with a maid named Jane who helped take care of me and our house. I loved Jane and preached both her and her husband Roland’s funeral…But she spoiled me…picked up my clothes…ironed them…folded them…cleaned my room. I’d throw my clothes in the corner…and magically they would be pressed, cleaned, folded and put away. I did it without thinking…I was a kid.

When I got married I had the same attitude…throw my clothes in the corner and expect them to magically change. That was my childish attitude…serve me.

Then one day at a Promise Keeper’s conference in Nashville the speaker challenged us… “Do you treat those you love as servants…or do you serve them?” And God convicted my heart…Do I serve my wife…do I serve those I love the most with an attitude of joy…And I began to put away childish things…If I am to love Kari as Christ loved the Church then that had to become my attitude…And I’ve been seeking to love her 18.9% more than she loves me from then on (our little joke).

I had to move from “I am” to “I will.”]

Let’s pray.


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