Conversion to Christianity can be described in a few different ways. But my favorite way of describing my launch into salvation is that I was “born again.” Surely, you recognize this term as originating with Jesus. He taught that only being born once was not sufficient to gain entrance into God’s Kingdom. You must be born again.
Soon after beginning to follow Christ, reality set in that I had been born again for a purpose. His Words were pointing me to serve the One who saved me. I became cognizant that God’s call upon those in Christ was to lead. But the particular sphere of leadership He has called us towards is paradoxical to the typical mindset of this world. For God to be glorified by our works, a spirit of servanthood is necessary.
The servanthood of Jesus provides us with the most excellent leadership model of all time. His love, humility and the willingness to sacrifice are readily seen. During Christmas, we tend to focus more on humility than His other characteristics. Think of how He humbly wrapped Himself in human flesh and blood. Humility is paramount in His birth, life, and death. Even His post-resurrection appearances displayed humility. He could have revealed Himself to Pilate, Annas, or Caiaphas and proved to them personally how wrong they had been. Instead, we find Him humbly seeking out those who were receptive to His message and ministry.
According to New Testament usage, the words servant and minister are synonymous. There we find the two most commonly used Greek words interpreted servant or minister are doulos and diakonos. Doulos is defined as a bond-slave or love-slave, while diakonos (this is the root of our English word, deacon) is a servant as represented in the activities he pursues. So with these original meanings, we understand a New Testament servant or minister is one who serves, not out of fear but out of love, not as a hired hand but as one called by God.
The present-day view of leadership from the secular perspective stands in contrast. It appears motives are rarely questioned. Many people are hurt by those who aspire to greatness through wrong motives such as greed, lust, selfish ambition, applause, power, prestige, and self-fulfillment. This all too common view of greatness is not true servanthood. Prevalent in our society is an attitude that to make it to the top, one must be willing to aggressively challenge and defeat all who get in the way. Those who adopt this view have an arrogant, self-assertive personality. Perhaps you have heard of this rat race. The problem is even though you might be the winning rat, you’re still a rat. Drastically different is Jesus’ standard of greatness: “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest (greatest), shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44). According to Jesus, to be great is to be a servant. You must be born again with Christ’s characteristics of love, humility, and the willingness to sacrifice to be capable of authentic Christian service.
All of this thinking about servanthood and servants of the Lord has kept an old chorus recurring in my head. Perhaps you know these lyrics written by Bud Chambers. “I was made in His likeness, created in his image, for I was born to serve the Lord. I will not deny Him, I will always walk beside Him, for I was born to the serve the Lord.”
Lisa and I are blessed to serve our Lord alongside so many of you. It’s evident to us that “the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it” (Frederick Buechner). We were, in fact, born again to serve the Lord. And as we are reflecting upon the One who was born to serve and save us all, we wish you a very merry Christmas!