Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Serve Boldly

A few weeks ago, I flew into Lambert Field in St. Louis. The young man driving the bus for my favorite rental car company (to protect the guilty, they will remain nameless) seemed to be less than energetic. My first indication of this was when he didn’t offer to help me onto the bus with my luggage.

Then, after picking me up, we stopped at another terminal. Patiently waiting was a mother and her eight-year-old daughter. The girl was in a wheelchair. Without leaving his seat, the driver asked if he should send another vehicle that had a chair lift. The mother said No, she could lift her daughter into the van. I hesitated, thinking the young man would get up—but there was no movement. With no thought of doing anything heroic, I quickly helped the mother get her daughter, the wheelchair, and their luggage on the bus. On the way to the rental car office, I visited with the mother and daughter and learned of the girl’s multiple back surgeries and their trip to St. Louis to again visit their surgeon.

I concluded that the young man driving the bus that day probably had been awol for the training session on boldly serving customers. The experience on that hot day in St. Louis served as a reminder to me of the importance of serving boldly—going far beyond the job description—going the second mile.

In this recessionary environment, it is a vitally important time to focus on serving boldly. Whether we serve with a for-profit or nonprofit organization, those of us who serve Christ should set the example for others.

Now is our time to serve boldly following the invitation and command of Jesus who set the ultimate example of serving boldly. Many Scripture passages describe Jesus as God’s Servant. He came as a servant to accomplish God’s will in the redemption of humanity.

To serve boldly, we must develop the servant attitude of Christ which calls for humility and obedience. In His instructions to His disciples about His servanthood, Jesus described His own role of service: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:27-28).

The servant of a human master works for his master. God, however, works through His servants. When we come to God as His servant, He first wants us to allow Him to transform us into the instrument of His good pleasure. Then He can take our life and put it where He wills and work through it to accomplish His purposes.1 Only then are we in a position to serve boldly.

Elijah served boldly. He challenged the prophets of Baal to a public test to prove once and for all whose God was the true God (1 Kings 17:1). He took a big risk as he was outnumbered 850 to one. Elijah proposed that the prophets of Baal prepare a sacrifice and ask their god to send fire to consume it. He would do the same and appeal to the God of Israel for fire. God answered with fire consuming the sacrifice (and even the stone altar) as Elijah had proposed. God did His mighty work, but He acted through His obedient servant, Elijah, who served boldly.

Peter and John were ordinary men who served boldly. After Jesus’ resurrection, God healed a crippled beggar through Peter. Peter and John were called before the Sanhedrin to give an account of their actions. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke boldly to the religious leaders, and “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Do you want to serve God boldly in the large or small issues of your church or nonprofit? Then find out what the Master is doing and submit yourself fully to Him that He might use you to further that work with boldness. Jesus said: “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor” (John 12:26). Serve boldly!

 1 Experiencing God, Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994, pp. 25-27.