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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
December 1, 2013
Servant Leadership in the Home
Are you a servant? Are you a leader? The answer to both questions for every Christian is, yes.
Every true Christian is a sinner who has been saved by God’s grace through faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every true Christian is by definition, a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ. Every Christian is also a slave of righteousness because he has been purchased by Christ’s blood and belongs to Him as His slave. You are either a good slave or a disobedient slave, but you are a slave. Each of these is true and foundational in being a Christian and in living the Christian life. All of them are contrary to man’s natural pride in desiring to be autonomous, in control his own destiny and good in his own eyes. That is why only the humble receive God’s grace.
Being a servant should quickly become normal for the Christian, and it will become that way if you are diligent in seeking to walk with the Lord in holiness and live for His glory. As your will becomes increasingly yielded to the will of the Lord, then the quest to live your life in service to Him for His glory becomes stronger. Eventually you will say whole heartedly along with Paul that you have been crucified with Christ and you no longer live, but Christ lives in you, and the life you now live in the flesh is lived by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself up for you (Gal. 2:20).
I do not want glory for my name, I want it only for Christ. I am no longer envious of those who are superior to me in some way, I only want to see them be used to glorify the Lord. I can truly rejoice to talk with someone whose church is larger, whose ministry is expanding more rapidly and whose opportunities are more prolific because that means Jesus is being glorified to that greater degree. I have learned to be content and rejoice with the gifts, ministry and empowerment that God has given to me, though it is contentment without complacency, for my longing is to do the very best for my Lord that I am capable. My contentment is to leave the results in His hands. That is why I sign my correspondence, A Simple Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is my hope that if you do not do so already, that the day will soon come that you would also identify yourself in some similar fashion because it reflects your own understanding of the meaning of life and your commitment to glorify our Lord.
Every Christian is a slave of God and His servant, but every Christian is also a leader to one degree or another. God has given to every Christian a spiritual gift by which he is to serve Him. As explained in 1 Corinthians 12, everyone and every gift in the body of Christ is needed for it to be healthy and carry out its God given purposes. Every spiritual gift corresponds with a command to take on that characteristic or to learn to carry out that practice. For example, there is a gift of mercy (Rom. 12:8), and there is also a command for every Christian to be merciful (Matt. 5:7; James 3:17). Those with the gift of mercy teach other Christians how to be merciful. There is a gift of teaching, but every Christian is responsible to teach someone the things of the Lord as part of making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Those with the gift of teaching equip other Christians to carry out their responsibilities in teaching in whatever capacity that might be. This means that every Christian will have a responsibility to lead others in developing in the areas that correspond to their spiritual giftedness. This leadership responsibility is carried out with all humility in service to God by serving others.
There are also those that have greater leadership roles within the church. God has entrusted some men with the responsibilities of the office of overseer as an elder in their congregation in shepherding a particular flock of God’s people. The men in those positions have authority from God to carry out their God given responsibilities, but even they are to carry out this leadership as slaves of God and servants of His people. The quest for leadership positions in God’s church is a quest for greater ministry responsibilities, not a quest for power.
Servant leadership is critical for the proper functioning of the church and for the proper functioning of the family. I want to examine this subject from the standpoint of an every enlarging family. We will start with singles, then move to husbands, then fathers and conclude with extended family.
At first glance it may seem strange to say that single people are to be servant leaders in their homes, but the reality is that unless you are a hermit living in solitary confinement, every person who is single interacts with a lot of other people and so must exercise servant leadership in those various contexts.
Let’s begin with the person who does live in a home all alone. In 1 Corinthians 7:32 Paul states that one of the advantages of the unmarried is being able to concentrate on the things of the Lord without having a divided interest in also having to please a spouse. The single person has a greater freedom and flexibility in serving the Lord, so there should be a corresponding greater use of their spiritual gifts within the rest of the church body. If you are single, how are you using its advantages of the sake of Christ’s kingdom?
Do you realize that even if you live alone, the many commands concerning hospitality also apply to you? These commands apply to all Christians, so you are not exempt. Those who desire to be church leaders have an even greater responsibility since it is a required character trait (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8). Besides, it is quite an intriguing thought to consider that in showing hospitality to strangers you might be entertaining angels without knowing it – and be glad that in the Scriptural examples of this, angels do not show any concern about what is served to them, so it is okay if the best that you can do is a microwave dinner or a fast food restaurant. When was the last time you showed hospitality? What do you need to do to be hospitable in the future? If you still feel inadequate, then team up with other people to do it – other singles or a couple.
The single person can also take on ministries that might prove to be more risky. Some of you may be thinking I am talking about working with Jr. High kids, but I am actually thinking of more dangerous things such as jail ministry, rescue missions, street evangelism and missions. Before I was married, I made two serious attempts toward foreign missions to places I would be very hesitant to take a wife. It is not that the life of a single person is somehow less valuable than someone who is married, it is just that the ramifications are greater for someone who is married. It is one thing for you to risk yourself, but once you are married, any risk you take also involves your spouse. What risks are you willing to take in serving the Lord while you are single that you might not take once you are married?
adults live with other people, and as soon as you add others into the equation, there must be servant leadership in the home. Even in a roommate situation, there is much that must be done in serving one another and in providing needed leadership in order to keep the home functioning peacefully. Household chores must be completed and so the responsibilities for the common areas equitably divided. Thoughtfulness toward the roommate(s) must be given to things such as decorations, noise levels, lateness of hours, pets, entertaining, and use of the common areas. How are you demonstrating Christ in your life to your roommate(s)?
Husbands & Wives
If you are married, servant leadership takes on additional importance because God defines your roles in the marriage. The husband has the responsibility to lead, but a common complaint among women today, both Christian and non-Christian, is that after they get married they find out their husbands have still not grown up and do not want to. They are married to an adult boy who shirks responsibilities and still wants to play games instead of a man who takes on his responsibilities. The increasing delay in the average age for first marriage is partially due to men who do not want to grow up. High school was fun and games and college was an extended party interrupted by occasional classes and exams. Working after college was to provide funds for more expensive games and equipment for hobbies. It is amazing how many men in their late 20’s and early 30’s are still addicted to things such as video games and comic books or some other hobby. If I am stepping on your toes, then perhaps it is time for you to man up and set aside childish things (1 Cor. 13:11).
The reality of life is that when you get married, life changes and you must become more responsible. Paul makes a brief statement about this in 1 Corinthians 7:28-33 that those who are married must be concerned about the things of the world and how to please a spouse, but he has more to say in Ephesians 5 in defining the roles and responsibilities in marriage. You must exercise servant leadership in carrying out those roles. Let me quickly summarize Ephesians 5:15-21
15 – Walk as wise men
16 – Make the most of your time
17 – Do not be foolish, understand the will of the Lord
18 – Do not be drunk – be filled with the Spirit
19 – Praising God in music
20 – Giving thanks in all things
21 – Mutual submission in the fear of Christ
The roles of marriage are explained in Ephesians 5:22-33
Verse 22 – The wife is to be submissive to the husband. Please note that the verb is supplied by verse 21. Her submission is set in a context of mutual submission as both strive to walk in godly wisdom in the fear of Christ.
Verse 23 & 24 – The husband is head of the wife just as Christ is head of Church, and as the church is subject to Christ, so the wife is to be to her husband. These two roles go hand in hand. The husband is the head and so the responsibility to properly lead is on his shoulders. He does not have a license to dictate and demand. The qualifier here is Christ. You husbands ultimately have to make the hard decisions which means you must be actively involved in the affairs of your home. If there are financial problems, you must lead her in finding a godly solution. If there are conflicts, you must take the lead in resolving them. You are also to lead her in the proper direction for the future. You are to lead her forward, not her prodding you on. If you fulfill your role properly with Christ as your model, then she can much more easily fulfill hers in humbly following your lead. And wives, please note that unless your husband wants you to sin, you are to submit to his leadership, and you will not do that unless you are in submission to Christ first.
The next few verses point out the husband’s responsibility to lead his wife spiritually. You take her to church instead of her dragging you. You initiate and lead family devotions. You encourage the family in ministry involvements.
Verses 25-27 – 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Jesus’ love is demonstrated in sacrificing Himself for the church, sanctifying her, and seeking her purity so that she should be holy and blameless. Your leadership and service must blend together to accomplish this. Let me prod a bit about this.
A) Love must act first. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8). You must love her sacrificially before she submits, before she is sanctified, before she is pure, before she is holy and blameless. It is your responsibility to lead her to those things.
B) Your love must be sacrificial like Christ’s. Agape (ajgavph) love is centered in the best interest of the other person and not in yourself. It is selfless rather than selfish. What would you do in each of these situations:
1) Your wife calls you to dinner and you find that she has cooked one of those “experiments” or something you do not really care for. What is your reaction? A) You exclaim, Oh No! B) You quietly find the Rolaids and Alka-seltzer and then eat it without comment. C) You thank her for her service and then find a later time to explain your preferences
2) You have been planning some event with your friends – fishing, hunting, watching an important game, but when the day arrives your wife has the flu. She looks and feels like death warmed over. How do you respond? A) Complain about her bad timing in getting sick. B) Rearrange your plans so that you and friends can avoid getting sick from her? C) Cancel your plans so that you can take care of her and make sure she knows it is a privilege for you to do so because she is worth it.
3) Your relaxing reading or watching something you enjoy and your wife sits down and says, “honey, I have a problem.” Do you A) Get excited that she thinks so highly of you that she wants your help, B) Want her to go away and come again some other day, or C) Get a chill running down your spine that you could be in trouble?
4) You have listened to your wife’s problem and given her a very intelligent and logical solution, but she keeps talking about it. Do you think: A) Why doesn’t she just thank me and leave me alone now, B) Uh oh, she’s a bit dense today, or C) Wow, this problem has really affected her. I wonder how else I can encourage her and let her know that I care?
C) Godly love seeks purity. You are responsible to protect her from the filth and moral garbage of this world, and you cannot do that unless you are protecting yourself too. Do not allow what is ungodly into your home or your own mind for it will corrupt you. Even many professing Christians, pornography is an increasing problem and it is extremely corrosive to good morals. Stay away from it, and if you are addicted, get help immediately. It is extremely difficult to overcome this by yourself.
Gentlemen, you must sacrifice yourself in order to love your wife the way Christ loved the church. It is your responsibility to lead her, but you must also serve her and there is a price you will have to pay. You will have to be humble and learn to put her best interests over your own, but isn’t that what we are called to be as Christians anyway? Philippians 2:3-4 commands us to “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Verses 28-30 commands husbands to “love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever
hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”
You are to love her with the same care you give to your own body. You make sure your body gets what it needs, you are to have the same diligence in making sure she has what she needs physically, mentally and emotionally. That is needs, not wants – but she does need time with you and to hear you love her and see that in practical ways. If you have young kids, give her a break from them from time to time by taking her out of her mommy role and putting her back in her wife role. Do you cherish her as you do your own body? Loving her will be a benefit to yourself anyway. There are very few women that will not respond to a loving husband and be an even greater blessing to him. If you are married to one of those exceptions, then continue to patiently love her anyway for the sake of Christ because it glorifies Him, and then wait to see what He does in her life.
Verses 31-32 touches on the sacredness in marriage in God establishing it and explaining that it is to reflect Christ and the church. Your marriage is sacred, so treat it that way. In addition, God cares about your marriage more than you do because it is to bring glory to Him, so there is always hope even when things get difficult.
Verse 33 concludes with a final command for the husband to love his wife and for the wife to respect her husband. The fact that she is required to show respect to you does not mean she has to respect all that you do. Why not make it easy for her to show you respect by being respectable instead of it being a strain for her or having to be creative in finding something to respect about you.
The scriptures are clear that a husband is to be a servant leader in his home. It is his responsibility to lead his wife and that is to be done by following Christ’s example and serve her. The wife’s role is to support her husband by humbly following his leadership and showing him respect. At the same time, there is to be a mutual submission by which each seeks what is best for the glory of God in the marriage. Because of that, the wise husband will take advantage of his wife’s abilities, especially in those areas in which she has superior knowledge or skills, and let her manage those areas. See 1 Peter 3:1-7 for more specific details about the roles of the husband and the wife.
If you have children, whether they are your own biological children, step children, adopted children, or foster children, you have additional responsibilities to lead and to serve.
An erroneous understanding of parenting has developed in American society in which the dad’s primary role is providing the material needs while the mother provides the nurture. If there is no father, then mom has to do both. Our marketing culture will convince your children at an early age that you are Mr. & Mrs. Moneybags who are supposed to give them all the toys and junk food being advertized. As they get older, this expands to include the latest fashionable clothes and paying the fees to attend the sports club, hobby and music training of their latest whim that their friends are going to. At 16 you’re supposed to provide them a car, and soon after that you are on the hook for college tuition. After college, you may find them back home living on your dime, and if you have a daughter, well, there is the potential of wedding expenses that will make the loan officer at the bank happy with you.
When we first moved to NY, we were shocked to learn how many couples were limiting the number of children they had to one or perhaps two because they didn’t see any way they could afford college and all the other expenses for which they would be responsible. When my wife and I had our third child, some people were questioning our sanity. We were questioning their priorities. If my wife’s health had not limited us, we would have had many more children than the three sons God has blessed us with.
Yes, you are responsible to provide for the material needs of your children, but 1Timothy 6:8 gives you the details of the extent of that provision – “And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” If you can provide more than that, then praise God for the icing on the cake, but be careful because too much icing is detrimental to their health. You do not have to provide them all the stuff they want and that includes college and the huge wedding. There are lots of ways to get a good education without violating the Scriptures many warnings about debt, and your daughter will be just as married if the reception consists of coffee, punch and cake as it would if it is a $100 per plate sit down dinner – which I am told is now a good price.
God’s priorities are radically different from those of our materialistic society. In fact, let me state it here more directly. It is detrimental to your child’s welfare to provide them all that stuff. Here is a short list of God’s priorities for you as parents.
1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37 that this was the great and foremost command. Leadership of your children begins here. Everything else that is important in life develops from this.
2) You dads, love their mother, and you mom’s, respect their father. We have already looked at the commands concerning this. You cannot be a better father or mother than you are a husband or wife.
3) Teach your children to know and love the Lord God. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NASB95)- “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” is related to the command in Deut. 6. Leadership of your children is founded in the example of how you live. That will influence their character more than anything else. Teaching them to know and love God must take place in all the common activities of life: 1) Sitting in your house: God is included in your conversations over meals, entertainment activities, hospitality, and home labor. 2) Walk by the way: while you travel from place to place you point out the things of God. 3) When you lie down: talking about God is the last thing you do at the end of the day 4) When you rise up: Talking about God is the first thing you do at the beginning of the day. 5) As frontals, on the doorposts – continual reminders to teach them to know and love God. If you leave teaching about God to school and church, you are already failing.
While it should be your greatest desire that your child becomes a Christian, that is beyond your control. You are responsible to teach everything you can so that they will repent and believe, but their salvation is in God’s hands. The practical goal at the end of your parenting years is that you will have an adult son or daughter that has godly character even if they remain unsaved. They will be respectful, responsible and a blessing to others. While the mom is usually the one that spends the most time with the children, the responsibility for this training actually belongs to you dads. She is assisting you in fulfilling your responsibility. Single mothers and those with an irresponsible husband will train their children out of their love for God and them.
Keep in mind that God will provide for you and enable you to do these things because that is His will for
you. Jesus explained in Matthew 6 that we are not to worry about any of the things necessary for daily living. His command and promise is that you “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God wants your focus to be on living for Him and His kingdom. He will take care of your material needs, so do not fall into the materialistic trap of our society, and if you are in it, get out now or you will train your children to be materialistic.
Men, you must lead your family God’s way and that can only be done by serving them by sacrificially seeking their best interests above your own selfish desires. Man up! Set aside the selfish pursuits and fulfill your God given responsibilities and priorities first. Love God, Love your wife, Teach them to know and love God. Everything else comes after. The same is true for you Ladies. You are to help him by being a godly wife and mother who is a blessing to him and the children. That will require you to sacrifice your selfish desires for what is best for him and the children. (Proverbs 14:1).
A final quick word about extended families. Paul’s comment in 1 Timothy 5:8 that we are to provide for our own or we deny the faith and are worse than an unbeliever demonstrates our responsibility to the extended family. While parents should provide for children, there are situations in which a parent may need the children to help them. That becomes part of God’s command to honor your father and mother. There may also be demands placed on you by siblings, in-laws, aunts & uncles, nieces and nephews and even cousins.
My word to you concerning all these things is caution. You must lead your family in determining what help is actually needed according to God’s directives instead of what they may desire. There can be a fine line between being compassionate and helping and getting in the way of the reproofs God is bringing about to correct their foolishness. Learn to have a stout but compassionate heart that can with great wisdom know when to say yes, when to say no, and how to bring about a godly solution to both short and long term problems.
Servant Leadership is not an option for the Christian because it is the model Jesus has given to us by His own life. You must be a diligent student of God’s word so that you can wisely lead others according to it. You must also have a humble heart that willingly sacrifices of yourself for the best interest of others. That begins in the home.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up. 2) Fill in the blanks in the notes above, then talk with your parents about the sermon and how you can be a servant leader in your home.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. How does a person become a Christian? Why should a Christian be a servant? What is your purpose in life? How is that manifested? What should be primary desire of church leaders? What ministry advantages do singles over those who are married? How do the commands to be hospitable apply to singles? Why can a single person take more risks? What responsibilities increase when you live with other people? Why is it hard for women to find decent husbands? Summarize each verse in Ephesians 5:15-21. Consider Ephesians 5:22-33 for these questions: What is the primary role of the wife? Of the husband? What is the model for each in fulfilling their role in a Christian marriage? Why must love act first instead of react? Give examples of how you can demonstrate sacrificial love for your spouse? Why is the pursuit of purity so important? What attitudes are Christians to have toward one another (Phil. 2:1-11)? How do you care for your own body? How can you show that kind of care for your spouse? Why is marriage sacred? How do we know that God cares more for your marriage than you do? How can a wife respect her husband if he does things that are not respectable? (1 Pet. 3:1-6). What is a parent’s Biblical responsibility to provide? How does that compare to the expectations of our society? What are God’s priorities in raising your children? While you cannot save your child from sin, what are you expected to do? How and when is that to take place? How important is your example in this? Why? What does God require in His promise to provide for you? (Matt. 6:33) What responsibilities do you have toward extended family? What cautions must be taken?
Servant Leadership in the Home – December 1, 2013
Every true Christian is ____________________________________________________________________
Being a servant becomes _______________ as you diligently seek to walk with Christ
Every Christian is a _______because God gives every Christian spiritual gifts to help mature the entire body
Leadership positions in the church are to be quests for greater __________responsibility, not greater power
1 Corinthians 7:32 – Singles’ ____________in serving the Lord: not having to be concerned about a spouse
Hospitality commands apply to ______________as much as they do for couples – a required trait for leaders
Singles can take on ministry that is more _____________ since there are less family responsibilities
Living with other people demands greater servant leader ___________________________in the home
Husbands & Wives
____________ defines the roles in marriage – husbands have the responsibility to lead
1 Corinthians 7 – those who are married ____________be concerned about the interests of their spouse
Ephesians 5:15f : Elements of walking in wisdom: _____________________________________________
Eph. 5:21-22: In the context of ________________ submission, the wife is to follow the husband’s lead
Eph. 5:23-24: The relationship between Christ and the church is the __________ for the husband and wife
Eph. 5:25-27: The husband is to _________________ love his wife seeking her purity and best interest
Love must act ____ – Romans 5:8 ___________________________________________________________
Love ( ajgavph / agape) is sacrificial, selfless – seeking the best interest of the _______________
Love seeks _____________ and so protects itself and those loved from the moral filth of our society
All Christians are to be _____________ and seek the best interest of other believers – Philippians 2:3-4
Eph. 5:28-30: The husband is to ________________ his wife as he does his own body
Eph. 5:31-32: God established marriage, so it is _______________ and it is to reflect Christ and the church
bsp; Eph. 5:33: Husbands are to love their wives, and wives are to _______________ their husbands
Godly marriage requires servant leadership with both humbly serving one another according to God’s _____
American culture pressures parents to be Mr. & Mr. __________________ to their children
1Timothy 6:8 – you are responsible to provide _____________ and _____________- anything more is extra
God’s priorities for parents are radically different from those of our society
1) Love the _______your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength – Matthew 22:37
2) Dads, love their __________. Moms, love their ____________- Ephesians 5:21-33
3) _____________________teach your children to know, love and obey the Lord God – Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Leadership of your children is founded in your ____________ to them – teach them in every aspect of life
You cannot save your children, but you can lay the foundation and ____________them to act godly
You provide for your family – but it is __________ that provide for you as you put Him first – Matt. 6:33
Do not fall into the trap of ________________, and if you are in it, get out now for the sake of your children
Men: Man Up! And _____________ them by sacrificing your selfish desires for their best interests
Women: ___________your home by being a godly helpmeet and mother who blesses her family (Prov. 14:1)
1 Timothy 5:8 – We have responsibilities to care for our extended _______________
Caution 1: The obligation is to meet actual ___________, not their desires
Caution 2: Be compassionate, but do not block God’s ______________ for their sin
Jesus’ example of servant leadership is to be followed by every Christian
Leadership, humility and sacrificial service for the interest of others begins in the _____________
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