Developing a Servant Heart – Prestige

This past week has been our Mission Orientation Programme at Tilsley College. It is always an encouraging and exciting week – though can be quite tiring for the students. One of the topics I will be talking about is the need to develop a servant heart in any form of Christian ministry, so I thought I might share one or two points from this here in three separate posts.

For anyone wishing to consider what the qualities of a Christian leader should be, the first port of call must be the person of Jesus. In Philippians 2, Paul uses Jesus’ example as one to which we should all aspire. There are three things we should probably note.

Paul describes Jesus as not holding on to the privileges of deity; he chose to let go of those things which were – by rights – his. One of the hardest things for us is not seeking prestige or recognition. We all too easily feel that the work we do deserves to be recognised in some way or other. There is an insidious aspect to this felt need and it will eat away at us if we allow it to.

It is an attitude which shows itself in various ways, from the large churches that have reserved car parking spaces to the special treatment accorded Christian ‘celebrities’. Even our continued, and spreading (?) custom of referring to some people within our churches by specific titles. I must admit to a certain discomfort about this and wonder where it ties in with Jesus’ statements in Matthew 23:13-15,

But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’, for you have only one Master and you are all brothers and sisters. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher’, for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Part of developing a servant heart such as we see exemplified in Jesus is not to look for or crave – or perhaps even accept – titles which seem to place us above the people we serve. So Paul says that selfish ambition–this searching for personal praise, fame and prestige–should be far from all we do. ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.’ Phil 2:3

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