Reflections on our life and lessons in uganda
For the last week I have been reading a book that at least a few of you will surely be familiar with Jesus on Leadership by C. Gene Wilkes. This book, as you could probably guess focuses on Jesus teachings on the subject specifically from the gospels and primarily about servant leadership. I wanted to share just a little bit from what I’m learning and also share how it is affecting the way I look at some things right now. Now coming from a church that stands on God’s word alone, of course none of this will really be new, but maybe it’s just a new way to look at it, and I certainly plan on diving a little bit into what I’m processing through right now, specifically on how to know when you are a servant. I probably will be quoting some parts of the book throughout, and I sure plan on quoting some scripture of course.
We are all aware that the Bible calls us to a life of servanthood, so in light of that, what needs to change? How can my life look more like Jesus’ life? That’s a question that each one of us should be asking daily, even if we don’t sit down every morning and start our day off with it, it should be at the heart of every word we say and every choice we make.
Now Jesus answers our hearts in this question all throughout His life, but one of the best and most direct answers is in Mark 10:42-44 “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” Now I could go through and expositionally break down these verses, but I know that you guys and gals who read our blog are Bible scholars too, you can break it apart for yourself. The thing to note is that the hearers at the time would have thought Jesus was nutso. Being the first and being the last cannot be the same thing, and has there ever been a slave who was “first” let alone a “slave of all”. Wilkes puts it this way, “Being a servant is not one of our natural goals.” I have to also add, “and it doesn’t make sense to our natural brains.” None-the-less, that’s the instruction we’ve been given and so we have to somehow make sense of it.
So here’s the part that made me have to stop and think for a while, and to be honest I’m not totally sure I have the answer yet. I think maybe that’s why I wanted to write about it; I suppose this is my way of thinking out loud. Wilkes writes, “Greatness among God’s people begins with service, and service implies labor without accolades.” That is indeed a high calling, and one that few if none of us can attain on our own. Here’s the part that I haven’t gotten yet. How can I both desire no accolade for my service and at the same time write a newsletter about teaching in church and fixing a widows mud house? Just to be brutally honest for a moment, this is a legitimate struggle for me here. I have both the desire and responsibility to send out newsletters and Facebook updates and the like letting folks in the states, specifically those investing prayers and money in the mission, know what is going out here. And yet, every time I write about something like that it is so difficult to get my heart out of two not good positions; the first- look at all this awesome stuff I’m doing…I’m so cool, the second - look at all this awesome stuff I’m doing, send me money; neither of those is the heart of a servant.
That second one is surprisingly pervasive in the missionary community here. I’ve even been encouraged to ask our supporters for more money by some of the long-time missionaries here. At one point we were having a conversation with some friends and it came up that Kristin’s mom is a nurse, and the first question was “Do they support you?” Now, of course, I am very thankful that they do support us, but I am SOOO much more thankful that they are our family. Likewise, it is more important to me to think of my friends as my friends and not my piggy bank, my church is my church and not my source of income, my pastor is my pastor and not the guy to suck up to when I need board approval for a big purchase…you get the idea. God has given me a desire to never turn over people and shake out their pockets, yet at the same time, missions requires support, and so it has quickly become one of the hardest things to balance, how does one raise support without either turning over my friends or patting myself on the back for the things we are doing here. To be honest, the answer is just prayerful consideration and a heart check every time I hit that post button on Facebook or send out a newsletter.
That’s just a glimpse into my heart right now, and I already wasn’t planning on this being as long as it already is, so here’s a little food for thought on servanthood then I’m done, I promise.
Wilkes says, “Marriage works when you come to the place where the other’s well-being is as important as your own.” Now I’m really enjoying this book, and I totally recommend it, but I wanted to share this one because it’s the one sentence that I’ve had to correct. The truth is ANY RELATIONSHIP works when you come to the place where the other’s well-being is MORE important than your own. Philippine 2:3 “count others more significant than yourselves.”
Jesus is the ultimate example, and He put it in words in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but not to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I’ll finish with this thought from Wilkes, “Jesus served us in our misunderstanding, our selfishness and our weakness. He saw what we needed and helped us. He knew where we needed to be and took us there - with great love and respect for us…His entire life mission was to free others, not to gain position for Himself.”