Self-Centred Servants?

I have a daughter and brother-in-law who are both very gifted graphic artists. Perhaps I’ll ask both of them to craft Luke 17:10 as a motto for ministries. I believe we strongly need this reminder.

“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ Luke 17:10 should be burned into the very ethos of leadership training.  We have been told what to do, and even when we ‘do our duty,’ we should remember to keep the focus upon our Master, Jesus who is called the Christ. Many, tragically, drop the duty and don’t keep their eyes upon Jesus.

At times religious robes, rituals and regulations cause leaders to ‘run on fumes’ and ‘show off’ their ‘status,’ before those who are watching. Trust me, no one is immune from the temptation to boast about their degrees, the books they’ve read, the blogs they’ve posted (ouch!), and the travels they have taken, how ‘hip’ their church is, why there’s a waiting list of conferences to address!

As Jesus taught in the ‘most religious location’ in Israel, namely the temple, he called out the ‘teachers of the law’ and warned the crowds and his disciples about the evident pompous behaviour they all saw on a regular basis.  As you read this paragraph, think about the parallels in today’s ministry settings.

‘As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished more severely.”‘

  • Flowing robes
  • Greetings and titles
  • Special seating
  • Misuse of donors monies
  • Lengthy prayers

These were some of the leadership ‘issues’ of the first century.  Some of today’s issues are the same, others reflect an unusual ignorance of the standards of Scripture.  “Lay hands on no suddenly” is the apostolic injunction yet inexperience novices are appointed and soon fall into ‘the trap of the devil.’ None should ‘presume to be a teacher knowing that teachers will receive a stricter judgment‘ yet mavericks try their hand at ‘innovative leadership,’ and soon have built a ministry on a foundation that collapses.
Self-centred servant? Jesus himself ‘came not to be served, but to serve.’ Should those of us called to follow in his footsteps not be modelling our lives and ministries after him? While you’re wrapping up reading this post, why not pray for five pastoral leaders you know, that God will help them, ‘watch their lives and doctrines closely.’

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