Editor's Note
: You can check out Part One of this article here

Type A Sheep

Titus 1:1:  Paul, a slave of God . . . 

Remember the core principle from Titus 1:1-2 

What you give yourself for defines who you are and determines what you do, the way you do it, and why you do it. 

Who                 Person                         slave                            identity

Way                 Purpose                       for                                reason

What                Passion                        apostle/leader              response

Why                 Persuasion                  hope                            motive

Time out questions:

Who owns you?  Whose slave are you?  Who is your master? 

  • Whoever created you—the potter owns the clay

  • Whoever you obey/serve

  • Whatever you yield to

  • What ever inner hunger drives you

  • What ever fear dominates you

Whatever gives you power and control over life? 

What are some owners we can give ourselves to?

  • Lust

  • Money

  • Mammon

  • Greed

  • The identity we seek to get

  • Pride

What is our purpose in giving ourselves to be owned?

To be God

What does your owner demand of you?

What does your owner give you back in return for what he takes from you?

Options:

Who could own you?  What are some possible masters that could own you? 

*Mammon—the way you keep score and gain significance
*People—the way you get acceptance is to be liked and gain security
*Sex—really a play for power. 

What others might there be?

The bottom line is that we sell ourselves for the same thing, not matter what it is we enslave ourselves to.

Power/control.

Whether it's money or people or sex, our aim is to gain security and significance and to get this we must have power and control.

Time out questions:

How do you respond to the idea that we sell ourselves to the owner we think will give us power and control so we can be safe and secure?

What others masters have you sold yourself to in the past?

And what master are you selling yourself to now?

For your consideration:

The drive for security and control—really independence— fits with Satan's original appeal to us to be like God so we could be in the place of highest knowledge (the knowledge of good and evil) and greatest power—and control. Satan's plan for us is to make us independent of God, not so we can be truly independent, but so we can be dependent on him in his role as the prince of the power of the air, which means we live according to the course of this world (Eph. 2:2), blinded by him as the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4). 

Think about this:

Have you ever made a painful discovery about yourself and said, "I can't believe how blind I've been?" What was that blindness about?

What impact did that blindness have on your relationships?  On your values?  On your walk with God?

What part did you play in that blindness?  What made you want to be blind?  What signals did you miss in your blindness?  How willfully blind were you? 

What lessons did you learn from your blindness?

When that kind of blindness occurs you have given yourself over to Satan's kingdom, not to his possession, but to his kingdom.  In other words, you have chosen to buy into Satan's lie that you can be as God and taken over God's role in your life only to discover that you cannot be God; you can only end up with a master who destroys you and will never deliver you. It's not so much that Satan can't deliver you (he can't), but he won't deliver you (he doesn't want to; he wants you beholden and in bondage to him). 

What makes you want to be your own god?

Reality:  Type A Sheep

We think of ourselves as Type A Personalities, driven men, ambitious men, successful men who think we are in control, but who deceive ourselves into thinking we actually can control our careers and the results of our lives.

We like our drive.  We love the challenges we face in life and think of ourselves as being able to overcome and surmount any barrier we will ever face.  And we have evidence that we can do this since we have succeeded at it in the past—and we may still be succeeding as overcomers.

But we have some uneasiness within us.  Life isn't going quite as we expected it to.  The current economy is creating uncertainty within us; we don't know what's going to happen and when we don't know what's going to happen, we can't have the same level of confidence we've had in the past.

As it turns out, we are exactly what the Bible calls us:  sheep.  And sheep need a shepherd, but we try to shepherd ourselves, and it's not working.  If we take a good look at life, we discover self-shepherding never has worked and we're learning more and more that it never will work.  We're not really Type A Personalities as much as we're Type A Sheep, and Type A Sheep rush off in every direction trying to make their own way only to end up falling off cliffs, stuck in brambles, and breaking their legs.  What we need is a shepherd, but the owners to whom we currently give ourselves are not shepherds but thieves.  They have promised us everything and given us nothing.  Instead they have stolen us and all that matters to us and once they have all they want, they will toss us aside and leave us shattered and broken on the sheep pile of life.

Time out questions:

  • So how do you respond to being a sheep—a Type A Sheep?

  • Are you willing to own that identity?  Why?  Why not?

  • What are your needs as a Type A Sheep?

  • How are you currently meeting these needs?

  • How well are your needs currently being met?  Why?  Why not?

  • How can you see these needs more fully met?

  • What decisions must you make to have a shepherd who will fully meet your need?

Time now for the daily prayer: 

Dear God, 

I resign being You. 

Signed, 

Me

The only option:

Knowledge is power, and power is what we want. We want security, but the only way to be totally secure is to have total control and the only way to have total control is to have total power. Or to have total trust by giving up our control to Someone who truly has the power and control we seek to give us the security we want.

The option is this:  to gain security through knowledge that gives us power and control or to gain security through knowing the One who has the power and control we need and can never get on our own.

We think we're trusting ourselves, but we're not; we're trusting whatever gives us the false sense of power and control. This means the bottom line of life is trust—and the only way we can trust is to give ourselves so totally over to the One with ultimate power and control that we become a slave.

Time out questions:

  • Which option are you choosing?

  • Whom do you trust with your life?

  • The answer to this question is the answer to the question "Who owns you?"

  • So what's your answer to "Who owns you?"

Problem:

The concept of slave just doesn't make it with us. It was a repulsive concept to the ancient Greeks and it's a repulsive concept in the modern world. The ancient Greeks saw it as a perversion of human nature. Slaves could never be citizens in ancient Greece, so they never had the dignity of freedom nor could they speak with the voice of the people. They were without voice or value—they didn't exist in society.

The Jews saw slavery as something that is not normal—something that should not mark the human condition. There was an illegality and irrationality that marked slavery, as they learned in Egypt. It spoke of the force of power and submission that robbed a man of all his God-given dignity. The rabbis viewed the word slave as an insult, and a man could be excommunicated for calling his neighbor a slave (Kittel, II, 272). 

As a concept slave is a thorn that has no rose—and Paul knew it. We cannot water down this word. The slave was not a bond-servant with a contract of come kind that had a release clause in it. It was a permanent state that meant exactly the same thing in the ancient world that it means today.

Slaves were at the bottom of the heap in Paul's day—and many of those who came to Christ were slaves, so they were in the ancient church.

Slaves had no will of their own; slaves had no choice, they did what they were told to do no matter how the felt about it, whether they liked it or not. Slaves had no choices of their own—they could never say no. Slaves had no time of their own. Slaves had no position of their own. Slaves had no possessions of their own Slaves had no future of their own. 

Slaves always wore a white apron that identified them wherever they went, very much like the yellow Star of David that Jews had to wear in Nazi Germany. Even though they could occupy very high and trusted positions such as tutors to the heirs of very wealthy households, they were still slaves, and they had neither voice, vote, nor rights.

Yet the word takes an amazing turn in the Scriptures. The highest position a man can have is to be a slave—the slave of God. Biblical thought is totally distinct from Greek thought and even some dimensions of Jewish thought.

To be God's slave is to enter into an exclusive and absolute relationship in which He totally controls a man for His purposes—and that's the highest honor a man can ever attain. This concept carries over into the New Testament:  the highest position a man can attain is to be a slave!

All of us are slaves to something—Romans 6:16. You have many choices as a slave, but you are a slave, no matter what you think...

You can be a slave to your followers, but you will always be a follower rushing forward so you can follow from the front.

You can be a slave to your peers, but you will always be an inferior held in the shackles of competition and the feelings of fear.

You can be a slave to yourself, but you will neither lead nor follow—you will protect yourself in every way you can.

You can be a slave to your culture and pursue all its values in Jesus' name, but you will be a man of your culture and never a man of Christ.

You can be a slave to your Lord and always be a leader, though at great cost to yourself and great benefit to your followers 

Time out question:

So whose slave are you? 

Think about this:

Go to Exodus 21:2-6 and see what it means to be a slave to God. Before going further in this study, read Exodus 21:2-6 and write down what you understand this passage to be saying about being a slave.

Here's what I think it means.

In the Bible slavery was voluntary. (Ex. 21:5) The man who entered into slavery for six years chose to make it a lifetime commitment. He was not forced to become a slave, even as we are not forced to become God's slave. He had a choice, just as we do.

We can choose to become God's slave or someone/something else's slave. Now as believers we have been bought for a price and God owns us, no matter what other slave master we may change. And sooner or later God will assert His ownership rights either to bring us back or take us out for our own eternal security (I Cor. 11:30-32). So you have a choice to make:  whose slave are you?

In the Bible slavery was a response of love. (Ex. 21:5) What would make a man become a slave? Only one thing:  love! "If the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children . . ."

Plainly—clearly, definitely, not under compulsion, but because of what his master has done for him, in a response of gratitude and a heart of love. This type of slavery cannot be coerced.

If you don't see what God has done for you and respond to Him with a grateful love, don't be His slave—in fact, you can't be His slave. There is only one reason why we can become God's slave:  out of a love for Him in response to His love for us.

In the Bible slavery was a response of commitment. (Ex. 21:6) The slave made a radical commitment to his master. He committed never to go past the limits of his door post.

These may have been physical limits or they may have been emotional limits, but they were limits. In essence, the slave was making a voluntary and radical commitment of love never to go anywhere his master did not allow him to go, no matter how limited that might be.

In the Bible slavery was a response that was permanent. (Ex. 21:6).

In the Bible the master had a legal responsibility to the slave. (Ex.21:6) The master had to bring the slave before the judges (the elders who sat in the city gate and acted on the people's matters) to make certain that the slave was making a voluntary love response.

Once this was confirmed there was a legally binding action, the piercing of the slave's ear on the master's door post to seal the radical and permanent commitment of the slave.

For us the legally binding action took place on Christ's cross.  What else could show us the kind of loving Master we so desperately need?

The point of it all:

Every man needs his ear pierced! 

Time out questions:

What does it mean to be God's slave?

To belong to God by grace and to be radically committed to Him out of love so we do whatever He wants no matter what it is or what it costs us.

What do we get out of being God's slave?

The greatest life with the greatest ROI we could possibly imagine!

Two final questions to consider:

How does being God's slave impact your day-to-day life? Oh, yes—the limit of God's door post is all of our time and His eternity for us.

What's the limit of your current master?

Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International (LFI) as well as Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. 
Bill began LFI in 2002 to minister to leaders around the world who are impacting the nations for Christ. Having watched God form his own life as a leader-mentor over thirty-seven years in ministry (including twelve years as a founding pastor, twelve years as the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership, and over twenty-three years as a seminary faculty member), Bill helps other leaders recognize the reality that their success as a leader depends upon God's formative work in their heart. Bill has been privileged to personally serve leaders in Asia, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. He has also produced a six-part video/workbook series,
 Forming Davids for the 21st Century, which is a perfect resource to help groups of individual leaders engage with each other in the leader formation journey.

Original publication date: July 16, 2010