Today we had the live broadcast from Panama City Beach from services and it is clear that the theme of service was being targeted pretty heavily. This is definitely something that I consider for the best, even though I have to say that I found the visuals for the sermonette to be a bit distracting and that there were some assumptions made about Tabitha/Dorcas being a young person that may not have been true. At any rate, I found the topic to be rather worthwhile and found much to approve of and appreciate in both messages and their clear point to encourage an attitude and practice of service among the brethren, with those aspects where the image was a bit misleading or distracting providing opportunities for discussion concerning, for example, the disconnect between a large amount of urban vagrancy in many areas along with a dire labor shortage that reflects the fact that a great many of people simply do not want to work in the contemporary climate and that companies are desperate for those who are willing to work.
One of the points I got, and hopefully this was something that was meant by the sermon speaker, was the nature of the attitude of service that Jesus Christ had as opposed to the attitude of those who are somewhat ambitious for power and position. There are some people who might think that service of the kind that Jesus Christ commands for leaders in the Gospels diminishes in some way their authority or their aura as leaders, but the Bible is clear that those who lead in a godly fashion lead as servants, by example as well as by teaching, and that we are expected to learn how to serve and to practice it long before we reach titles of great power and authority. Yet rather than losing an aura of authority by virtue of service, we demonstrate that leadership is about serving others and building up those around us rather than seeking our own selfish interests as ungodly and worldly leaders do, and has been the case throughout human history.
What was it that made Jesus Christ the greatest servant? There are a lot of aspects that went into it, but one of the most fundamental is the fact that unlike human leaders, Jesus Christ did not have to strive for equality with God. One of the most unfortunate aspects about many human leaders is that their lack of personal integrity and glory leads them to look for positions of authority and honor to give them an honor that they do not possess on their own merits. This was not the case with Jesus Christ, who on His own merits was God, a point He subtly made often in the Gospel of John, even as He equally often confirmed his submission to the will of God and not His own will. The fact that Jesus Christ did not have to worry about an absence of personal merit and glory–since His supply of both was and is infinite–allowed Him to be entirely secure about whether or not he was seen as powerful and glorious in a way that insecure human leaders simply are not. The better we are following the example of our Lord and Savior, the less we have to defend our positional authority and the more irrelevant concerns of personal dignity and pride are, and that allows us to serve without the sort of inhibitions that tend to make it awkward for us to serve others as Jesus Christ served during His human existence.
It is by no means easy to know how we are to serve others best. There are a great many needs that people have, but it is by no means easy to figure out what lies at the root of them all. We lack the knowledge to effectively help without hurting much of the time, in that it is all too easy to enable bad habits when we attempt to respond to those who are in obvious need. Similarly, those needs which are not communicated clearly to us are not often seen at all, and what we judge to be what others need is not often what others need and what they will appreciate. We could probably all do better when it comes to generosity of spirit and resources–I am sure it is true of me–but we must work to do the best that we can to manage this task with as much graciousness as possible. The marching orders were clear enough, but how to do it, as always, remains challenging.