So this is it, the week of Thanksgiving. For almost a month social media has been filled with people posting about what they are thankful for, which is amazing. For me Thanksgiving isn’t only a day that we celebrate, it is a lifestyle that we should live. Gratitude tempers our attitude, guards against pride, and grows a desire to share good will with others. We all need more of that. So for the next few days I thought I would share a series of posts that express my thoughts on what I am deeply appreciative of.
When I think about these people, I can’t say thank you enough. These are the people who are there to do whatever it takes. They aren’t in it for the applause or recognition. They volunteer for the jobs no one wants to do. Then they show up again and again and again. They aren’t just dependable, they have bulletproof attitudes, they “get it” in ways that many people simply don’t, won’t, or can’t. I am talking about servant leaders.
When we think of leadership we often forget these folks. Instead we think of people wearing suits and ties, occupying board rooms, giving speeches, and being talked about on the news. Those people do serve, and they do lead, but that doesn’t make them servant leaders. Servant leaders are different because they have accepted the call to be different. They practice what it means to ” …deny themselves, take up your cross daily and follow me.”
It’s not about serving without recognition or reward, it’s higher and deeper than that, it is actually an aspect of Christ being formed in them. When teaching of this very thing Paul wrote to the church in Philippi and said:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
-Philippians 2:5-8 NIV
He is as always, our ultimate example. We cannot fathom what Jesus gave up when He came to this earth. Divinity is one of those concepts that we simply can’t wrap the amazing minds God gave us around.
Too many times even the good things we do are done with selfish motivation. We want others to notice, to think of us in a certain light, and so we serve with the cameras on, perfectly posing for the pictures that will fill up our timelines to garner those precious likes… And to a point this is actually OK. It can motivate others to serve, and I far prefer good being done and someone propping up their ego with it, than good going undone and another human being left in need. That’s not what this is about though. Servant leaders do their work when no one notices, when the crowd isn’t cheering, when the toilet is clogged and we can’t afford a plumber. They aren’t in it for the glory, and most often try to hide when it shines their way.
When I think of servant leaders, I think of many people, but my Mom tops the list. I know it sounds sappy, but she embodies Paul’s teachings about Christ. She gives and gives and then gives some more. She rarely, if ever, complains. And she finds such joy in knowing that she not only helped someone out, but that she did it for the Lord, that it often moves her to tears. She doesn’t get up to speak to crowds of people. She doesn’t sing specials. She doesn’t have trophies or rewards, but through the things she does while no one is watching, thousands of people are touched every single month.
I think of the army of volunteers at LifePoint and other churches who wake up earlyand stay late on service days. Their effort to ensure that the church looks, smells, and feels good so that people can feel loved and safe is changing the world one heart at a time. I think of the Group leaders and hosts who work to do the same thing for people who might not come to a Sunday service, but who will come to someone’s house. Every church needs more people just like you.
I think of the people who sacrifice more than the price of a cup of coffee to ensure that kids in our Haitian orphanage, a Convoy of Hope or the Out of the Ashes feeding and education program. They are changing lives they will never fully understand in ways you can’t put a dollar amount on, and they didn’t need the promise of a medal to do it.
I think of church planters who take huge leaps of faith like Bruce and Diane Rauma who will launch Legacy Church in January. Starting a church is such a monumental undertaking that many church plants fail within the first 18 months. Church planters often work and pray for years before the first sermon is even preached or the first offering is taken. They work tirelessly to build a team, raise funds, and to help people learn to live a life of faith. They aren’t in it to make money, get famous, or to find recognition, rather they have a burden on their hearts for the Gospel, to see lives change, and to see God bring new life to their communities.
I think of the men and women who serve in our military, law enforcement, and emergency services. People who put their lives on the line, sacrifice time with their families, and feel the pinch of public opinion as it constricts their ability to serve. They often still wrestle with the memories and scars that are the result of that service and sacrifice for years after they come home or finally step away from the job.
I could go on an on, and so could you. Maybe you are thinking of the people in your life who sacrifice so much without need or desire for recognition. We all have people like this in our lives, even if our relationships with them aren’t as deep as we would like, they still make our lives better. I can’t say thank you enough to God for them, and I can’t say it enough to them, but I can try and so can you. Take some time, write a note, make a call, just take the time to say thank you to those servant leaders in your life who make such a difference. And as you do, take some time to consider how you can be one of those people as well. Thanks, look for Part 2 tomorrow!