Servanthood


I was twelve years old when God placed a particular call on my life. A junior high student in Kemp, Texas, I put aside my grandiose plans of being either a homicide detective or a cracker-jack lawyer and surrendered to be a minister of the Gospel. From that humble (and humbling) moment God has led me on an interesting story that turns pages almost as often as a good novel switches chapters.

One of the most exhilarating chapters of my story set my boots on foreign soil. It was the turn of my call from minister to missionary that crossed my path with my Blushing Bride. And then we got to experience the adventure of sink or swim cultural immersion in the former soviet state of Ukraine. My heart for missions expanded during those short years, and one of my constant prayers is that I can continue to keep my spiritual eyes focused on the big picture that God has: seeing all nations of the world have an opportunity to trust His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son.

That same calling that put me in service of the church, then drafted me for international service, eventually brought me back to American soil to continue my ministry. Included in that ministry has been the heart-wrenching, hope-finding journey to adoption—a mission field in itself. This week I pray, while a real-life missionary fills my pulpit, that I will keep my eyes opened to Gospel opportunities while we are again in a foreign land for the express purpose of meeting and receiving our new baby, Esther Noelle Potter.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  — Philippians 3:14

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Usually, teachers ask students to write a “What I Did Last Summer” essay at the beginning of the new school year. Well, here we are at the end of another school year and we have the whole summer laying before us. Let’s start our essay for next fall: “What will I do this summer?”

Here are some suggestions that might be helpful:

  • I will attend church regularly, just like I do the rest of the year.
  • When I take my family vacation, I will find time to worship God, especially if we’re gone over a weekend.
  • I will participate in some kind of mission activity (like Mission Spectacular in Chicago or St. Louis on June 3).
  • I will help with Vacation Bible School.
  • I will bring a friend to church with me.
  • I will get plenty of rest because I know that it is healthy.
  • I will get plenty of exercise because my body needs it.
  • I will find ways to be Christ-like to my friends, family, and neighbors.
  • I will attend (or sponsor) a summer camp for children.
  • I will actively look for a mission trip to grow in my faith.
  • I will start working in one of the on-going ministry efforts of my local church.

Fill your summer with wonderful things to do now and tell about later. Make this the best “What I Did Last Summer” essay you’ve ever written.

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”  —Psalm 86:12

I worked my part of my way through college and seminary as a sales associate at Kmart. I started with the company as an after-school worker in as a high school junior. One of the things I learned on that job were that the successful stores had one of two kinds of managers: those who you knew because of the impression they gave knew what they were doing and you were willing to do whatever they asked you to do, and those who, when they asked you to do something, got down on the floor and did it with you. At one point, a local store manager said that the in-store snack bar/café needed a thorough cleaning. When he asked me to use a couple of hours after closing to get on my hands and knees to scrub the floors by hand, he handed me one of two scrub brushes and proceeded to use the other himself.

Living the Christian life is like that. People need to know that we either have already gone through what we are asking them to go through, or that, although we’ve been there before, we are willing to get our hands and knees dirty while we serve with them.

The Christian life is not lived in isolation, but in community, and sometimes community gets messy. When it gets messy, we roll up our sleeves and serve. As Chuck Swindoll once observed, we need to “improve our serve.”

  “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  –Jesus  (John 13:14)