Service and Servant Leadership
May 8, 2021
Moses is the preeminent figure in the Old Testament. Naturally shy and humble, he sought obscurity. But when the Lord called him to rescue the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, this man of faith revealed the courage, tenacity, and moral convictions of a true hero. Although Moses would reveal great flaws more than once, he was the great spiritual leader of his people.
Moses barely survived infancy. Threatened by the growing number of Israelites in Egypt, the pharaoh issued a decree to kill all male Hebrews under 2 years old. Moses’ mother hid her child. She placed him in an “ark of bulrushes” and “laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank” (Exodus 2:3). Miraculously, the pharaoh’s daughter discovered the crying baby. Moses’ sister, Miriam, watching the child from a distance, offered her mother’s assistance in raising Moses.
Moses’ mother raised him his first 12 years. He was then educated in the pharaoh’s royal school. We might reasonably assume Moses was given the best possible education in reading, writing, history, geography, political science, management, leadership—lessons he used well when he later led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage.
God brought victory out of defeat through one faithful, humble, godly man. Moses prefigures Christ. In the New Testament, Jesus is the Moses of His people. He is the deliverer. He is the mighty conqueror. He is the one who will lead us to victory. He still turns defeats into victories. He still delivers us from bondage. He still causes us to triumph. —Mark Finley, Solid Ground, p. 204
Servant leadership is an attribute that both Moses and Jesus displayed in their God-appointed mission. They both refused to adopt the world’s popular model of leadership. Moses and Jesus did not choose the path of fame, popularity, and worldly power. They did not use their influence to build their own earthly kingdoms. Their model of leadership did not have any trace of selfish ambition. In fact, God Himself assigned their mission. Moses was called to deliver the Israelites from their Egyptian captivity. Jesus, the Son of God, was the promised Messiah sent from heaven to deliver the human race from Satan’s captivity. Moses and Jesus used their influence to lead people to God and to call them to obedience to His commandments. Their lives were marked by renunciation, self-sacrifice, and wholehearted service for the cause of God. Yet their reward was infinitely worth the cost. Through eternal ages the whole universe will witness the transformed lives of the great multitude of human beings who accepted the gift of salvation and will be in God’s kingdom. This is the path that marks servant leadership. Are you willing to serve God faithfully and lead others to Him no matter the cost?
Memory Text: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
Our Beliefs, no. 17, Spiritual Gifts and Ministries: “God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts that each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity.”
Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 79-81
Read Matthew 23:11, 12.
In this year’s Student Association elections, three candidates are running. Candidate A, Jim, is an extremely popular student, a star basketball player, active in the church youth group. He’s good-looking, and everyone likes him. Candidate B, Michele, is a quiet, studious girl who gets straight A’s and wants to study law. Of the three of them she seems to really have the best ideas about how student government should work and what she can do to improve the school. Candidate C, Dave, is a nice guy but not a superstar. His grades are good enough to run for president, but not straight A’s. He has lots of friends, but he’s not what you’d call super-popular. Mostly, people know Dave as someone who works hard. He tutors underprivileged kids at a community center after school, he coaches a kids’ soccer team for free, and he’s gone on two church mission trips and been the hardest-working member of the team.
Whom are you going to vote for? What qualities do you think are most important in a leader?
Read Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 1 Timothy 3:1-13.
God has given each of us gifts to be used to help others, share His message of love, and to glorify Him. God will lead us to people who need help, and it is our job to respond. He has also presented to us traits that will help us be His messengers, reflecting His love to the world.
How can you use the gifts God has given you to help others today?
Fill in the blanks using the words from the word bank. The texts are from the New King James Version.
“As each one has a gift, minister it to one, as stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him as the oracles of God. If anyone, let him do it as with the ability which God, that in things God may be through Jesus Christ, to whom the glory and the dominion and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10, 11).
Read John 13:12-15.
How do you feel about serving and helping others? We’ve been told that we are supposed to help others. But is it something you do from your heart, or is it something you do just because you have been told to do it?
According to Jesus, it’s at the dead center of the Christian life. It’s what He’s going to be looking for when He comes back again. And it’s the only way to get ahead, to really succeed. Jesus isn’t going to be interested in impressed by your grades—although doing well in school reflects good discipline and diligence. Neither will He look for your sports trophies, your friends, your clothes, or any selfish pursuit, even your perfect Sabbath School attendance record. Jesus is looking for someone who’s willing to get down on their knees, get dirty, and start helping others.
That’s why Jesus did that little object lesson where He got down on His knees and washed the disciples’ dirty feet. Nobody else was willing to do it. Jesus showed that a real leader, a real success, a person filled with God’s Spirit, is the person who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty—serving others.
“One of the last acts of His [Jesus’] life on earth was to grid Himself as a servant, and perform a servant’s part” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 645). “And those who would partake of His [Jesus] divine attributes, and share with Him the joy of seeing souls redeemed, must follow His example of unselfish ministry” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 651).
Match the verse with the text. All verses are from the New Kings James Version.
|Acts 6:1-7||James 1:27||Micah 6:8||Luke 14:12-14|
|Ephesians 4:11-16||Matthew 25:40||Matthew 20:25-28||1 Corinthians 12:27, 28|
1. “. . . just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve . . .”
2. “. . . God has appointed these in the church . . .”
3. “. . . to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly . . .”
4. “. . . invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind . . .”
5. “. . . Then the word of God spread . . .”
6. “. . . as you did it to one of the least of these . . .”
7. “. . . unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God . . .”
8. “. . . visit orphans and widows in their trouble . . .”
Read Matthew 25:34-40.
Review the memory text.
Do you see yourself as a leader, or more as a follower? Either way, God is calling you to serve. That means serving Him by serving others. But how do you “serve others”? How do you know what God wants you to do for others?
Start looking around you. What are the needs you see in your family, in your school, in your community? Who are the people who need help?
Take a look at yourself, too. God blessed you with natural talents and abilities, and He’ll help those to grow if you give them to Him to serve others. Where can your gifts be used to connect with other people’s needs?
Remember Jesus washing those disciples’ feet. He was becoming a servant in order to serve others. Real service may use your natural gifts and talents, but it will also involve being humble. Not drawing attention to yourself or getting praise for how great you are. Doing things that may be difficult, that others might not appreciate or understand. And sometimes, it will mean doing things that no one else is willing to do.
Serving others brings us closer to Jesus—and to other people, too! Start looking for opportunities to answer God’s call to service today.
“If we work with wholehearted interest as a follower of Christ, the heart will be in close sympathy with God, and the Spirit of God, moving upon our spirit, will call forth the sacred harmonies of the soul in answer to the divine touch” (Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 83).
Read John 13:34, 35.
Jesus cared for those around Him and did many wonderful things—He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and raised the dead. We can serve and share Jesus with those around us who are hurting and are in need. Look back at yesterday’s suggestions for finding ways to serve and help others. Then jot down a few ideas about how God might be calling you to serve others:
Needs I see around me:
Things I’m good at and enjoy doing:
Where do the two connect? (How can I use my gifts to meet others’ needs?)