High Maintenance Servants of Christ

9 01 2014

self-centeredI have the YouVersion Bible App which provides hundreds of optional reading guides. I am currently doing a 21 day guide called “Living The Surrendered Life.” It’s great. There is a short devotional thought and then a passage (or passages) of Scripture. Today I completed day 3 which reflected on an interesting passage.

Acts 1:23-26 tells the story of what happened after Judas killed himself and another disciple was needed to complete the group. Two men were put up as candidates: Joseph and Matthias. One was chosen and the other was not. The writer of this day’s devotional wrote about the rejection the other disciple might have felt. Even the most mature servant of Christ is still human and still feels the sting of not being included or recognized. As human beings we quickly feel less valued and unimportant.

The author mused about what might have happened to him next when he was “put out to pasture” so to speak? There is no mention of comfort given to Joseph. There is no mention of how they might have needed to sit down with him to encourage him to pursue the things of Christ, to continue to be a servant in the work. There is nothing written up about follow-up or interventions or effort put in to Joseph to make sure he wouldn’t just pack up and leave.

This brought some questions to mind:

  • What does it take for me to keep serving — even in unfavorable circumstances?
  • What do I require from others to keep me going, to feed my energy for the cause, to keep seeing why I am doing what I am doing?
  • Will I keep lending my gift no matter what?
  • What do “they” need to do to make “me” feel necessary and needed?
  • And what if my team-mates let me down…will I withhold my gifts?

There is an old song that says “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back. Though none go with me, still I will follow, no turning back; no turning back!” I think it is easy to apply that to our Christian life and community in general but less easy when it comes to the Christian life and community specifically.

Generally, it is unlikely I am going to reject Christ. I can’t even imagine it!

Specifically though, it is quite likely I could withdraw from being useful, walk from my local church community, or carry an offense. As it turns out, following Jesus practically  is much harder than it looks (if we are really following) and often ends up not really looking like we are following Jesus at all; at least not if we believe the Bible when it says the surrendered life involves sacrifice and selflessness. Not if we believe that much of what we do should involve the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Not if we believe that the first should be last and the greatest should be the least; not if we believe that sort of thing.

When we forget “that sort of thing” we end up with a lot of high maintenance servants. How do we know if we are one?

  • When we have expectations our tanks will get filled by other people
  • When we have expectations our work will be noticed and appreciated on a regular enough basis
  • When we have expectations we will receive the right amount of tending to keep us interested and willing
  • When we expect some sort of well-oiled church system to create a sense of belonging/social circle for us

In summary: when we need to be maintained in order to keep doing what we know Christ has called us to do…that’s not really being a servant as the Bible describes a servant.

Who needs to hold up their end of the deal in order for me to keep my end of the deal? Isn’t it Christ and Christ alone? And hasn’t He proven Himself already? Everything I do should be a response, not a condition.

Paul, who had a great perspective about things like this, said (In 2 Corinthians 12:15): “I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.”

I am sure Joseph had to contend with this when he wasn’t the one chosen to join the group. As he stood on what he could have perceived to be “the sidelines” he had to decide whether he would keep loving Jesus, loving people, and living mission or not. He had to decide whether he could still be friends with this group, even though he wasn’t picked. If he felt very let down, he alone held the decision of whether he would quietly slip away, or whether his service was to men or to God. That would have been a game changer.

Whatever post we hold on a team in a local church community, we are all the same: everyone is just trying. If every servant doesn’t have at his/her core “the call” implanted on their own heart to follow Jesus and work with each other no matter what, without any maintenance at all, then we are more than a stone’s throw from being steadfast and unmovable (1 Corinthians 15:58).

You and I need to ask: If people completely let me down, and if I do not receive one word of encouragement, and if my work is not recognized an ounce…will I walk?

I revisit this question regularly. Why am I doing what I do and who am I doing it for? Any other answer other than “Jesus” is not enough to keep me at it; it really is not.

Jesus is the one who has asked me to join Him in doing something, and if that call is not there in front of my face then there is not maintenance enough for me to “fulfill my vows to the Lord” (Psalm 116:14).

And remember…

God is not unjust;
He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him
as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
(Hebrews 6:10)

— Teresa Klassen

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One response

14 01 2014
brokenandjoyful

Thanks for sharing! Our expectations of others can really undermine our reliance on God for all we need 🙂

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