Thursday, May 11, 2017

Servant Leadership

INSIGHT #7 MAY 13, 2017
Second Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson
"Servant Leadership"
May 13, 2017
"The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:25-28. 
Do you know someone who is an elder? What is it about that person that makes you consider them your elder? Is it that they are older? Or have more wisdom than others? What is the crux of being an elder, or a leader?
In God's kingdom there is a hierarchy - there are different positions occupied by different beings.  But contrary to Lucifer's accusations, God does not play favorites. Honor is related to character.
Christ was one with the Father, of the same divine, eternal, loving character. His position as Michael the archangel was one of servant leadership, a humbling of Himself to serve the angels. His leadership is in contrast to that of Lucifer, who sought to glorify himself rather than serve willingly, resting in the Father's bestowment of his particular gifts.
The choice of style and approach to leadership remains the same for us today. In 1 Peter 5:1-4, Peter draws the contrast of these two principles. Shepherds of the flock should see the bigger picture (oversee), serving willingly and eagerly, living the "in Christ" life as He lives in them. This requires a death to self. The alternative approach is by compulsion, driven by self interest, and thus oppressive of others.
"In the kingdom of God, position is not gained through favoritism. It is not earned, nor is it received through an arbitrary bestowal. It is the result of character. The crown and the throne are the tokens of a condition attained--tokens of self-conquest through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."  AA 543.
A humble spirit is essential whether we are leading, or following (1 Peter 5:5-7). Humility allows God to shower His grace upon us, and allows us to let Him care for us and our cares. It also saves us from trying to do too much.
"We shall forfeit the favor of God if we lose the meek and lowly spirit which in his sight is of great price. Love to Jesus must be the motive which impels us to action. He places the highest value upon even the most trivial acts done from love to him." (RH, November 18, 1884 par. 16)  
"All the work done, however excellent it may appear to be, is worthless if not done in the love of Jesus. One may go through the whole round of religious activity, and yet, unless Christ is woven into all that he says and does, he will work for his own glory." (Letter 48, 1903).
"The work done for Christ in the world is not made of great deeds and wonderful achievements. These will come in as needed. But the most successful work is that which keeps self as much as possible out of sight….
"The labor of love for Christ's sake, if treasured by the giver ends there, for he has all the reward he will ever have. But if he does this work for Christ's sake, thinking not of the matter afterward, angels of God gather up these incidents and cherish them as precious pearls. 
"The gentleness of Christ that is revealed in laboring for souls while self takes no credit, will be rewarded. With God the deeds of all are counted for just what heaven values them, not as they are estimated by the worker. It becomes us to do no more than we can do with order, with thoroughness and exactitude. 
"If our active temperament gathers in a large amount of work that we have not strength nor the grace of Christ to do understandingly and with order and exactitude, everything we undertake shows imperfection, and the work is constantly marred. God is not glorified, however good the motive….
"The worker complains of constantly having too heavy burdens to bear, when God is not pleased with his taking these burdens; and he makes his own life one of worriment and anxiety and weariness, because he will not learn the lessons Christ has given him, to wear His yoke and bear His burdens rather than the yoke and burdens of his own creating. Christ says, 'My yoke is easy, . . . My burden is light.' Then let every extra burden be left for Jesus, and all the necessary burdens He will also take, and bear them, and us too." (17MR 69-70)  
It is the humility Christ reveals in His steps down to the cross (Phil.2:5-8) that reveals the power of His love, and humbles us. We must be established by steadfast faith in this love, surrendering to Christ's leadership, in order to meet the temptations of the counterfeit leader, who is not the Lamb, but like a roaring lion. It is a sobering time in which to live, requiring constant vigilance against the temptation to let self rule. The contrast will be seen more and more clearly as we approach the end.
"Love is power. Intellectual and moral strength are involved in this principle, and cannot be separated from it. The power of wealth has a tendency to corrupt and destroy; the power of force is strong to do hurt; but the excellence and value of pure love consist in its efficiency to do good, and to do nothing else but good. Whatsoever is done out of pure love, be it ever so little or contemptible in the sight of men, is wholly fruitful; for God measures more with how much love one worketh, than the amount he doeth. Love is of God. The unconverted heart cannot originate nor produce this plant of heavenly growth, which lives alone, and flourishes only where Christ reigns. Love cannot live without action, and every act increases, strengthens, and extends it. Love will prevail and gain the victory when argument and authority are powerless. Love works not for profit nor reward; yet God has ordained that great gain shall be the certain result of every labor of love. It is diffusive in its nature, and quiet in its operation, yet strong and mighty in its purpose to overcome great evils. It is melting and transforming in its influence, and will take hold of the lives of the sinful, and affect their hearts when every other means has proved unsuccessful. Wherever the power of intellect, of authority, of force, is employed, and love is not manifestly present, the affections and will of those whom we seek to reach, assume a defensive, repelling position, and increase their strength of resistance as they are met by another power than love. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. He came into the world to bring resistance and authority into subjection to himself. Wisdom and strength he could command, but the means he employed to overcome evil were wisdom and strength of love. Suffer nothing to divide your interest from your present work until God shall see fit to give you another piece of work in the same field. Seek not for happiness, for that is never to be found by seeking for it. Go about your duty. Let faithfulness mark all your doings, and be clothed with humility." RH, May 11, 1886.      
"Lucifer sought supreme authority, eternal in the heavens. When the spirit of worldly ambition has entered a church it seeks temporal authority supreme on earth. This is but the natural course for human weakness to take, when it has forgotten to subject itself in child-like humility to Divine leading. When the fallen church and the fallen angel have purposes which complement each other and tend to the same end, they become natural allies. But when the church forsakes its Divine Master, it subjects itself to Satan's leadership, and becomes, with all its power and intelligence, the dupe and the tool of supernatural subtlety. The two will then work together for the same ends,- the supremacy of self, and the subjugation of all else, and will have a common purpose,- to destroy the product of the Gospel, liberty, civil and religious. When a church does this it becomes an ecclesiasticism and no longer the Church of God."  July 2, 1896 EJW, PTUK 420.
"We are prone to think only of the fact that Satan goes about, like a roaring lion, seeking to destroy us, forgetting that God sends His goodness and mercy also after us, and that they are able to deliver us. 'The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me.'" January 18, 1894 EJW, PTUK 33.
"There is power in the love of the Lord. He is great, and He is love, so that His greatness is the measure of His love and gentleness. When He comes to deliver His people from the roaring lion that walks about, seeking whom he may devour, it is with such power that the heavens and the earth are shaken, and moved from their place; yet that mighty exhibition of power is but the manifestation of His tender love. 'Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.' Isa. 40:10-11. But the oldest person on earth is in comparison with the Lord but an infant, and so the Lord says: 'Hearken unto Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by Me from the belly, which are carried from the womb; and even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you; I have made, and I will bear, even I will carry, and I will deliver.' Isa. 46:3-4. There is hope and comfort for all in Him who has said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' "August 16, 1900 EJW, PTUK 514.
Amen! Praise our great Servant Leader!!! May we learn to lead like Him, and to follow Him wherever He goes.
~Todd Guthrie