Essential Practices for the Small Group Leader #6: Be a Servant

Be a servant.

If you wish to make a significant contribution to the Kingdom of God, you will have to serve others. Unfortunately, in our consumer-driven society, that is often a difficult thing to ask of small-group leaders. We tend to be busy people – busy with jobs, busy with family activities, and busy with church stuff. Often, we think we’re just too busy to serve.

Be a servant.

Ministry can be messy. Being a servant is often awkward, difficult and frustrating. Not everyone appreciates acts of service or kindness. Your motives may be questioned. The people you wish to help may disappoint you. You may wonder if you are really doing any good.

Be a servant.

And ministry is often inconvenient. The immediate needs of another person can disrupt your schedule. Pain, hunger, misery and despair have a nasty habit of interrupting at the most inopportune times. It’s easy to be caught off-guard when someone unloads on us out of their fear and helplessness. You will feel inadequate.

Be a servant anyway.

Lest I make servanthood out to be some loathsome, terrible burden to be avoided at all costs, let me share the upside of ministry.

1. God made us to serve. Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Serving is in our spiritual genes. Our Creator has made each of us uniquely useful. We have gifts, talents and abilities that can benefit other people that God places in our path. We don’t have to worry about our own adequacy – He has already given us what we need to serve.

2. God prepares us for service. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. Paul reminds us that our ability to minister to others comes primarily from the overflow of God’s ministry to us. As we consider God’s kindness, mercy and comfort, it gives us something worthwhile and tangible to share to others in their time of need. What God gives to us, He expects us to give away to others also.

3. God honors those who serve. In the gospels, we see that Jesus values servanthood over worldly status. Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35. The Lord clearly equated servanthood with greatness. Servanthood may never get you noticed in the eyes of the world, but it will please God. The honor and glory for our service ultimately belong to Him. After all, he’s the one who equipped us to serve. Jesus also said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.

4. Jesus showed us how to serve. Throughout the gospel accounts, we see Jesus healing the sick, mingling with children, and sharing meals with social outcasts. He did not shun the poor. He did not turn his back on those who were in bondage to addictions or sinful, destructive lifestyles.  He didn’t allow criticism from the religious elite to deter him. He showed us that anyone can serve, as long as we don’t allow our pride to get in the way: When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:12-17.

To sum it up, God expects for us to be proactive in our service to others. If you see a need, do your best to meet it. Don’t just sit around waiting for someone to show up with a need. If you do, you may find yourself ill-prepared to help. As you become intentional about serving others, you gain a greater sense of what to do and what to say in a variety of circumstances. But be careful to avoid the trap of seeing people as “projects.” Ministry is not about simply doing good –  it’s about showing the love of Christ to another soul who is likewise loved by the Creator. That’s what is meant by “giving a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.”

Get ready to get your hands dirty and make an impact for the Kingdom of God! Small group leaders and Sunday School teachers, here’s your chance to set a strong example for others in your group. You’ll be amazed at the joy that will be yours as you serve others.

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2 Comments on “Essential Practices for the Small Group Leader #6: Be a Servant”

  1. Michelle Garris Says:

    I noticed the first paragraph contained the word busy several times. Many of my friends starting having children around age 20, I had my first at 30. I’ve always felt a little tossed to the side and some would say, “Just wait until you have a child, then you’ll understand.” Well, I had a child but others around me had more than one and would say, “Just wait until you have another one, life is so easy with one…” That may be true. I now have two children but for many of my generation friendship remains a low priority. All people ever say is, “I’m so busy” or “I’m so tired” I attended a women’s event at church and the speaker shared that B.U.S.Y. stands for; Being Under Satan’s Yoke. I know the key is finding a balance but how is the million-dollar question for so many.

  2. Carl Salle Says:

    In 1972 I was a participant in a Friday night couples Bible study. We we a close knit group of 5 couples. One session, after we had been meeting for over a year, we invited another church member to come and share his experiences growing up in the Catholic church, its beliefs and how he became saved and left that denomination. After about 2 hours of Bible study and his testimony, Dick offered a clear presentation of what it means to come to a saving and continuing faith in Christ. Too the surprise of all of us, one of our regular members and attenders, exclaimed that he had never before surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ but wanted to, beginning that night. We could have met for years and Mike could have been lost, but for Dick not assuming that everyone in the group was saved. It taught me a valuable lesson. Every time we meet to study God’s word, it should be for the purpose of reflecting God’s Glory by focusing on Jesus Christ, His atonement for our sin, and our need to surrender daily to Him. Today Mike is in full time Christian service.

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