by Charles R. Swindoll
In his fine little volume In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen mentions three very real, albeit subtle temptations any servant of Christ faces. They correspond with the three temptations our Lord faced before He began His earthly ministry. They also fit with three observations the apostle Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 4:1-7).
First Temptation: To be self-sufficient and self-reliant. Instead of being so self-assured, we need to be open, unguarded, and vulnerable.
Second Temptation: To be spectacular . . . a celebrity mentality. In Nouwen's words, "Jesus refused to be a stunt man. . . . He did not come to walk on hot coals, swallow fire or put His hand in a lion's mouth to demonstrate He had something worthwhile to say."
Third Temptation: To be powerful . . . in charge. To lead is appropriate, necessary, and good. But to push, to manipulate, to be in full control . . . never! To say it simply, one God is sufficient.
Servanthood implies diligence, faithfulness, loyalty, and humility. Servants don't compete . . . or grandstand . . . or polish their image . . . or grab the limelight. They know their job, they admit their limitations, they do what they do quietly and consistently.
Servants cannot control anyone or everything, and they shouldn't try.
Servants cannot change or "fix" people.
Servants cannot meet most folks' expectations.
Servants cannot concern themselves with who gets the credit.
Servants cannot minister in the flesh or all alone.
Let me suggest five practical guidelines for cultivating the right kind of servant habits.
Whatever we do, let's do more with others. Ministry is not a solo, it's a chorus.
Whenever we do it, let's place the emphasis on quality, not quantity. Excellence, not expansion, is our goal.
Whenever we go to do it, let's do it the same as if we were doing it among those who know us the best. Not only will this keep us accountable, it'll guard us from exaggeration.
Whoever may respond, let's keep a level head. If someone criticizes, don't allow it to get you down. If someone idolizes, don't tolerate or fantasize such foolishness.
However long we minister, let's model the Master . . . a servant-hearted and a grace-oriented style.
Let's serve . . . in the name of Jesus.
A servant-hearted attitude keeps us from self-minded attitude.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.