Category Archives: servanthood

Small Beginnings, Influencers, and Cupbearers

water glassI know I have written on this topic before, but it’s on my heart once again.

In the last thirty years or so, I have seen a mindset within the charismatic/prophetic church which has brought a great deal of discontentment and disillusion to some believers. It’s the emphasis on being somebody special — special in the sense of being more than everybody else. We’ve been encouraged to achieve “greatness.” Many of us have been given personal prophecies that we would be important “influencers;” “world-changers;” great evangelists, prophets, worship leaders, or whatever. In short, we’ve been molded into thinking that if we don’t have some kind of celebrity status, there is something wrong with us.

We’ve been told, “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings” — with the implication that we might start small, but it had better get bigger! We’re encouraged to serve first by cleaning toilets, because eventually our faithfulness will be noticed, and we will graduate to better things (where cleaning toilets is no longer part of our job description). I suppose it’s the same “dream big” mentality that pervades all of American society, where every little girl or boy theoretically has the potential of someday becoming President. We’ve just repackaged it a bit in Christianity.

Along the way, though, some have become sadly disappointed when these illusions of greatness did not materialize. They’ve given up, wondering what went wrong or where they failed. Still others continue to chase after that pot of gold (personal importance) at the end of the rainbow, while it always remains out of reach.

I suspect God never intended for us to have expectations of being a “somebody.” We already are somebodies in His eyes, because we are His sons and daughters. We are already “a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9) of priceless value, just because we are His. I don’t think He ever wanted us to aim at graduating from scrubbing toilets into something “better.” Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, didn’t He? He said that in the Resurrection, He would seat us at the table and serve us (Luke 12:37). How amazing! Not even Jesus has graduated from serving. It is His eternal nature, and it must become ours.

A few days ago, I spent some time praying part of Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might….” I promised the Lord that I would do whatever He brings to my hand, no matter how insignificant it might seem. For me right now, that means devoting myself to serving my elderly mother, making sure she feels loved and well taken care of. It means spending time listening to people, praying with them, answering their questions about spiritual things when I am able, and helping them in little ways here and there which are unlikely to be noticed on a grand scale. It means cherishing my husband and children. It also means that right now I can’t pursue some things I would have preferred to do if I had the time.

I see a lot of other Christians in the same position, some serving with greater dedication than I could ever hope to. Selfless giving in small ways is precious in the Lord’s sight, if we do it humbly and joyfully for Him. These acts of kindness, every bit as much as miracles, signs, and wonders, are the works and greater works which Jesus said we would do, in John 14:12. Don’t think so? Take another look at 1 Corinthians 13, with its message about noisy gongs and clanging symbols versus loving when the rubber meets the road.

Years ago, I taught a Bible verse to our small children when I put them to bed at night: “And whoever will give to one of these little ones a cup of cold water to drink, only in the name of a disciple, most assuredly I say to you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42). We recited this verse together over that last glass of water they requested before going to sleep at night. It’s a fun memory.

Whether you ever become well known or not, do with all your might whatever the Lord gives you, moment by moment. Don’t miss out on the many opportunities to serve Him and the people around you while you wait for some big destiny thing. And remember, giving that cup of cold water, only in the name of a disciple, will be rewarded by the King, too.

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peace of mind

 

 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Sauls and “Smalls”

LeeAnnRubsam.com

While attending a prayer gathering recently in which we were praying for our nation, I heard God speak that He wants to change the Christian leaders of America from Sauls into “smalls.”  This is true particularly of those who have the call of being an apostle upon their lives (whether their church tradition recognizes the existence of modern-day apostles or not).

The Apostle Paul’s name was originally Saul, and he was aptly named.  King Saul of the Old Testament was the epitome of zealously trying to accomplish God’s purposes in the power of man, and that’s what the New Testament Saul did, too — until His encounter with Jesus.  He eventually was affectionately nicknamed Paul, which means “small.”

God wants to take today’s leaders in the Church and turn them from Sauls to “smalls” — humble, dependent on Him alone, making themselves of no reputation, deeply servant-hearted.  The time is coming to an end when God will tolerate His leaders trying to fulfill the Great Commission through plans that they have devised from their own natural understanding or by trying to carbon copy someone else’s model of ministry.  The time of ministry empires which have forgotten their original focus and have become self-perpetuating entities is also coming to an end. 

What did Paul and the other early apostles have that many modern-day Christian leaders do not?  They carried a wide-eyed expectancy for unlimited miracles, stemming from utter dependency on Jesus, fueled by intimacy with Him.  They yielded themselves in obedience to whatever the Lord commanded them  — whether their reputations and popularity were ruined in the process or not.  They stayed small in their own eyes while keeping Jesus big in their gaze.

The power of the Lord will flow in America, with biblical signs, wonders, miracles, healings, deliverances, and even the raising of many from the dead.  But for that to happen wholesale, God must have leaders who carry His glory without usurping any of it for themselves.  That is going to take the turning of Sauls into smalls.

Understanding Honor (Part 8) — The Lord’s Reward

LeeAnnRubsam.com

We said in the beginning of this series that genuine honor can only come from God.  We also talked about the path to honor, which is honoring others before ourselves – God first, and then other people.

Humility is another prerequisite for receiving honor: “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility” (Proverbs 15:33).  But, as we said last time, humility is not putting ourselves down.  Humility is lining ourselves up with what God says and depending on Him to care for us, fulfill our destiny in His timing, and bring whatever vindication, recognition, and approbation are needed, as He sees fit.  Humility is a place of rest in Him.

The devil’s lie to mankind has always been that God is trying to keep us from having good things, including honor.  The story of Balaam and Balak in Numbers 22-24 is a prime example.  King Balak tried to flatter Balaam, a prophet who was also involved in sorcery, into cursing Israel for him.  The rewards dangled in front of Balaam were money, recognition, and power.

Balaam blessed Israel, rather than cursing them, although not out of a pure heart of obedience toward God.  And Balak responded with anger: “Therefore now flee to your place: I thought to promote you to great honor; but, look, the LORD has held you back from honor” (Numbers 24:11).  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  Had Balaam yielded himself in pure devotion to the Lord, God would have seen to his honor.  But Balaam believed what the king was accusing God of – because it was what he was already convinced of in his deceived heart.  The result?  Balaam devised a plan to destroy Israel, whom he knew were the beloved of God, and he was killed in battle while siding with Israel’s enemies (Numbers 31:16; Numbers 31:8).

We are all apt to make the same mistake that Balaam made – attempting to seize honor for ourselves by manipulation or by receiving the flatteries of men.  And the root of conniving to get honor for ourselves is believing that God does not want to give us good things.  Sometimes the opportunities that arise for temporary or premature honor are pretty tempting.  But if we care most of all about what God thinks of us and if we understand that He truly loves to honor His own, we will keep out of the trap. 

How can you believe, who receive honor from each other, and do not seek the honor that comes only from God? John 5:44 

If any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. The man who serves me is the man whom my Father will honor.John 12:26 

By understanding the destiny purpose that God has for us, as well as who we are in Christ Jesus, we can function confidently in the position He has given us.  Sure, this requires stepping into that place little by little, as God releases us into it.  Coming into our destiny takes a great deal of patience and dependence on the Lord.  We have to let Him lead in the timing, or we are likely to make a mess by stepping ahead of Him.  (Moving ahead of God is often where we get into striving for honor.)

In conclusion, seek the honor of God above all else.  If you strive for the honor of men, it will always elude you.  But as you rest in the honor of God, the honor of men will overtake you without you ever knowing how.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 7) — Honoring Ourselves

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Understanding Honor (Part 7) — Honoring Ourselves

LeeAnnRubsam.com

You may have seen that title and thought I was going to talk about how wrong it is to honor ourselves.  Not exactly.

It is true that we should not boast, try to draw attention to ourselves, or otherwise seek to manipulate people to give us honor.  Jesus had a few things to say about the hypocrites  who stood on the street corner and let everybody know about their great spirituality (Matthew 6:1-16).  But, in this post, I want to present the positive aspect of respecting ourselves because we are the Lord’s possession.

We have great value, simply because we are His.  I mentioned in an earlier post that all people are to be honored because they are God’s creation.  That includes you.  Beyond our value as created beings, Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:20 that we are “bought with a price.”  That price was the suffering and death of God’s own Son.  We are costly jewels in His sight, and therefore should treat ourselves as such.

Too many of us, due to emotional wounds that we have received, dishonor ourselves in our minds and in our speech.  “I am no good.”  “God doesn’t love me.”  “I don’t think anyone could love me.”  “I am ugly.”  “I am unworthy.”  “I am not as good as so-and-so.”  “I am stupid.”  “God can’t use me.”  These are all lies.

Some of us have been taught by our families or our church culture that putting ourselves down is the modest way to speak and think.  We argue when people try to compliment us on our appearance, a character strength, or a job well done. This is a false humility, though.  Any “humility” that causes us to say things that do not line up with what God says about us is false.

Really, righteous honoring of ourselves is all about accepting the honor which God bestows upon us and confidently walking in it.  We will wrap up this series by expanding on that thought next time.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 6) — Church Leadership
Next: Understanding Honor (Part 8) — The Lord’s Reward

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Understanding Honor (Part 6) — Church Leadership

LeeAnnRubsam.com

Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who have the rule over [oversee] you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as those who must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief — for that is unprofitable for you. 

Honoring church leadership seems to be a lost art in our day, but quite frankly, God commands it – including obedience to them. 

I understand that there are abuses.  I went through the Shepherding Movement back in the 70’s and early 80’s, and experienced its extremes firsthand.  Yes, some church leaders are control freaks.  But a lot of them aren’t. 

Life in the Spirit is about freedom, not bondage.  “… Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). We have to balance between not permitting controlling people to enslave us and humbly submitting ourselves in accountability to godly leadership. 

In order to rightly discern whether someone is “controlling” or whether we are the ones with the issues, we must understand what’s going on inside of us personally.  I’ve seen good pastors who were not control freaks be accused of that — but the real problem was that their accusers did not want to receive much-needed correction.  Know your own heart before you paste labels on your leadership.  But if you are in a control environment, you don’t have to stay there.  Find the church where God wants you to be, under a godly shepherd who knows how to honor his congregation. 

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 

The literal meaning of “double honor” in this verse is concerning finances.  Corporately, the local church should honor good leadership by paying them well for the hard work they do.  Individually, we honor them by giving generous offerings to support their ministry.  If you don’t tithe and give offerings in your local fellowship, you are dishonoring your pastor.  You will inevitably put your money where your heart is. 

What we say about our church leaders is a strong indicator of whether we honor them in our hearts.  Having the pastor for lunch — shredding who he is and what he preaches at the dinner table — is not acceptable in God’s sight.  Numbers 12 is the story of Miriam and Aaron having a grumbling session, because they did not like some of the things Moses was doing.  God made it quite clear that He was not happy with their behavior.  I don’t think any of us would want God to deal with us similarly.

Our leaders are going to make mistakes — lots of them.  But give them grace.  Support them.  Love them.  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). 

Honoring God-ordained leadership by receiving their correction, embracing their vision, supporting that vision with our finances, and pulling alongside them in oneness of heart brings God’s favor upon us, while bucking their authority, withholding finances, and speaking disrespectfully of them thwarts our ability to come into the full destiny that God intends for us.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 5) — Those in Authority  
Next: Understanding Honor (Part 7) — Honoring Ourselves

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam