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The High Value of Serving

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Vision & Values Month
“The High Value of Serving”
                                 January 26, 2014

Jesus knew His time had come. He knew within hours He would be arrested, charged, beaten, and led away to be crucified. WHAT WAS ON HIS MIND?

It’s interesting. Whenever I’m tired, sick, or worried about something I AM ON MY MIND!

But not Jesus, He had Kingdom work to do. Jesus had more lessons to teach His disciples on what ministry in God’s Kingdom looked like.

All this month on Wednesday nights we have been focusing on servant-leadership, and that’s the kind of leadership that Jesus not only taught, but He modeled – John 13:1-17.

There are so many powerful lessons from Jesus example in this wonderful story.

#1 Servant Leaders Stay Focused On Their Task

Jesus had every reason to be distracted from the task at hand. “Jesus knew His hour had come…He knew He had come FROM God and was going TO God.”

I never thought about the joy and excitement that must have been in Jesus heart, I’M GOING HOME, I’M GOING HOME!!!

You know how hard it is to stay focused on the task at hand when your vacation is a week away!
Sabbatical planning

Not only did Jesus have excitement in His heart but He knew He had come into this world for ONE REASON, to become the sacrificial Lamb of God whose blood would wash away the sins of all mankind.

That was the task at hand, but it meant His blood had to be shed. It meant pain! It meant death!

There was so much going on IN and AROUND Jesus, and yet He managed to keep His eyes on the task.

Jesus had a job to do. He had another lesson to teach, and of all things, it was a lesson on serving.

I’m trying to put myself in His place. I think if it had been me I’d of been tempted to say, “Hey fellas, I had a teaching planned about the high value of serving but I kind of stressed right now. I need for you to minister to me!”

Isn’t that reasonable? Isn’t that how we feel when life comes at us fast and hard, when everything around us seems uncertain and all that was stable seems to be shifting?

Not only did Jesus have His eminent and painful demise weighing on His mind but He also had to deal with the deception of those in His inner circle; (Slide) “the devil already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him.”

There are few experiences in life more difficult to process than betrayal.
Some of you have experienced the pain of betrayal in your business/ministry
Others have gone through it in your marriage/friends

When we are hurting the temptation is to check out of life, to lose focus, and become self-absorbed. Our thought is, we won’t trust anymore. Our inclination is to pull back and give up on ministry.

We still have a business to run, a family to raise, a task to complete.

Servant leaders rise above their own personal pain and minister to others.

#2 Servant Leaders Stay Clean In Their Hearts

“Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples feet….If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

I’m convinced Jesus was communicating far more than just the high value of serving, He was demonstrating the importance of keeping our hearts clean.


Those were big words from Jesus. If you do not allow Me to wash your hearts regularly, you cannot participate in my kingdom’s work.

Serving in God’s kingdom must do far more than accomplish a task; it must continually deal with the he art of the server.

We who serve have a responsibility to keep our hearts clean. We have to check our motivations. We have to examine not only what we do but why we do it. 

Last Monday was the 36th anniversary of the day I started in pastoral ministry. Over the years I have learned that God always deals with my heart in every sermon I preach. I cannot preach to you about any subject without first asking, ‘do I really believe what I’m preaching and am I living this out?’

Serving in God’s kingdom should be very introspective, and that’s a good thing!
If we don’t have an outlet for our faith in serving others the tendency is to become lax, lazy and careless.

The Apostle Paul said; 1 Corinthians 9:27 “ I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
From that verse comes the saying; “practice what you preach!”

When David Delp was on staff he said one day; “I think if I wasn’t in the ministry I might not stay saved!”

I completely understood what he was saying; serving makes you continually examine your heart.

It’s the same feeling I had the day I was drove my wife and newborn daughter home from Methodist Hospital in August 1984. I remember thinking to myself; “am I up for this task, is my life a good enough example for my daughter?”

But on the flip side, some of us never get involved with serving precisely because of this principle.

We think we are not good enough to serve; we are not clean enough to influence others.

In Luke 5 there’s another story about Peter…Jesus taught multitudes from Peters boat….put out in deep….toiled all night with no fish….full nets breaking….other boat…Peter’s response.

Luke 5:8 “When Simon Peter saw it he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
Luke 5:10-11 “And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.”

It’s a trap to think we can be good enough to serve God; we can be righteous enough to serve God.

All our righteousness is as filthy rags! We cannot make ourselves ready to be qualified to serve God.

But God in His grace and mercy will Himself cleanse us and make us ready to serve.
Serving prompts the desire to be clean but ONLY God can clean us.


Towards the end of Peter’s life he had learned his source for a clean heart.

Peter wrote; 2 Peter 1:3-4 (TNIV) “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

We have to make ourselves vulnerable to the Lord if we intend to maintain a clean heart. Jesus has to be allowed to touch the sensitive parts of our life – John 13:6-7.

Peter wasn’t getting it. This was without a doubt beyond his comfort zone. What Jesus was doing was personal, vulnerable, and Peter was uncomfortable with the whole thing – John 13:8.

I’ve always thought Peter was a master at over stating things….Oh wow let’s build three tabernacles right here on the Mount of Transfiguration!

But in this case I don’t believe he was overstating it at all. I believe Peter was saying, Jesus do not make the foundation of my life clean, make every part of it clean – John 13:9.

The parts of our body that reveal an unclean heart are our hands and our head, what we touch and what we think.

Peter was saying clean all of me, Lord!
#3 Servant Leaders Stay Humble In Their Spirits

Jesus said, “A servant is not greater than his master.”

If we are true servants of the Lord we will emulate the life of Jesus, and Jesus served with a humble spirit.

I love Ken Johnson, the chaplain of the Colts for a lot of reasons, but the primary reason is because I see this trait in him. He has an awesome position and rubs shoulders with the rich and famous, but it never seems to go to his head. In fact he and I talk about servant leadership and humility quite often (this week). It’s easy to find people in ministry who lead like kings instead of servants.

Jesus said – John 13:12-17.

Ken is at NYC all this week interviewing multiple players from each team talking with them about their faith in Jesus (TBN).

Someone has said; (Slide) “True humility is not demeaning ourselves or thinking poorly of ourselves, it is simply not thinking of ourselves at all!”

Jesus portrayed this attitude to perfection on the night of His betrayal. He set aside all the distractions around Him, and tamped down all the concerns within Him, and served His disciples.

We are blessed when we serve with an attitude of humility, a clean heart, focused on God’s purpose.

I’ve learned some other lessons in my 36 years of pastoring.
People leave a church when they feel their needs are not being met
People stay in a church when they feel they are meeting the needs of others

Jesus disciples frequently argued about who was the greatest in the Kingdom of God. They were very conscious of where they sat at the table.

Jesus said, Luke 22:26-27 “He who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

PRAYER – Altar workers



About Ron Bontrager

Lead Pastor of Lakeview Church in Indianapolis.

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