The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you've arrived. In our self-serving culture with its "me first" mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.
Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status. God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you.
This is so contrary to the world's idea of greatness that we have a hard time understanding it, much less practicing it. The disciples argued about who deserved the most prominent position, and 2,000 years later, Christian leaders still jockey for position and prominence in churches, denominations, and parachurch ministries.
Thousands of books have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood. Everyone wants to lead; no one wants to be a servant. We would rather be generals than privates. Even Christians want to be "servant-leaders," not just plain servants. But to be like Jesus is to be a servant. That's what he called himself.
While knowing your shape is important for serving God, having the heart of a servant is even more important. Remember, God shaped you for service, not for self-centeredness. Without a servant's heart, you will be tempted to misuse your shape for personal gain. You will also be tempted to use it as an excuse to exempt yourself from meeting some needs.
God often tests our hearts by asking us to serve in ways we're not shaped. If you see a man fall into a ditch, God expects you to help him out, not say, "I don't have the gift of mercy or service."
While you may not be gifted for a particular task, you may be called to do it if no one who is gifted at it is around. Your primary ministry should be in the area of your shape, but your secondary service is wherever you're needed at the moment.
Your shape reveals your ministry, but your servant's heart will reveal your maturity. No special talent or gift is required to stay after a meeting to pick up trash or stack chairs. Anyone can be a servant. All it requires is character.
It is possible to serve in church for a lifetime without ever being a servant. You must have a servant's heart.
How can you know if you have the heart of a servant?
Jesus said, "You can tell what they are by what they do" (Matthew 7:16 CEV).
Real servants pay attention to needs.
Real servants pay attention to needs. Servants are always on the lookout for ways to help others. When they see a need, they seize the moment to meet it, just as the Bible commands us: "Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers" (Galatians 6:10 GWT).
When God puts someone in need right in front of you, he is giving you the opportunity to grow in servanthood. Notice that God says the needs of your church family are to be given preference, not put at the bottom of your "things to do" list.
We miss many occasions for serving because we lack sensitivity and spontaneity. Great opportunities to serve never last long. They pass quickly, sometimes never to return again. You may only get one chance to serve that person, so take advantage of the moment.
"Never tell your neighbors to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now" (Proverbs 3:28 TEV).
John Wesley was an incredible servant of God. His motto was: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can."
That is greatness. You can begin by looking for small tasks that no one else wants to do. Do these little things as if they were great things, because God is watching.
Real servants make themselves available to serve.
Real servants make themselves available to serve. Servants don't fill up their time with other pursuits that could limit their availability. They want to be ready to jump into service when called on.
Much like a soldier, a servant must always be standing by for duty: "No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier" (2 Timothy 2:4 NASB).
If you only serve when it's convenient for you, you're not a real servant. Real servants do what's needed, even when it's inconvenient.
Are you available to God anytime? Can he mess up your plans without you becoming resentful? As a servant, you don't get to pick and choose when or where you will serve.
Being a servant means giving up the right to control your schedule and allowing God to interrupt it whenever he needs to.
If you will remind yourself at the start of every day that you are God's servant, interruptions won't frustrate you as much, because your agenda will be whatever God wants to bring into your life. Servants see interruptions as divine appointments for ministry and are happy for the opportunity to practice serving.