House Party: Habits of a Servant - Pastor Troy Maxwell
Chip: We are in for a treat. I have a friend. His name is Pastor Troy Maxwell. He pastors a really small church in Charlotte, North Carolina that runs between 4,000-5,000 people. They’re killing it up there for Jesus in Charlotte, North Carolina. They’re just killing it. Four different campuses. He’s got 17 people on his teaching team that rotate. They’re just doing it. He’s got passion. His wife, Penny, is awesome. She’s a fiery preacher, too. This is a powerful, powerful, powerful couple. I had begged, borrowed and pleaded for Troy to come down here and speak to us, and he spent Friday with our staff. He also came down with one of his executive team members. They just poured into our staff and told us, “Hey, we remember when we were where you are at. This is what it took to get to where we’re at.” They really helped us to navigate some things. It’s always great to have people that are at a season above you, or more seasons ahead of you, that can show you how to walk through the woods in places that you’ve never been. So, it was a great time for our staff. Our staff left charged up and excited. And then I asked Troy, “Hey, you know, we just have a couple services on the weekend. Five. Could you preach them for us? The old man could take a week off every once in a while.”
But I just want you to know that you’re going to hear a word in-season for our church. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. It’s not like we sit around and decide, “These are the nine things that we want to do.” I just said, “Hey, I want you to come and speak. Speak your heart. Feel free to speak.” I can tell you that it is a word in-season for our church. I just hope that you will give Pastor Troy Maxwell a huge Grace Community Church welcome as he comes up here and speaks to us. We don’t go to the same gym.
Troy: For Jesus, come on. Can we give it up for Jesus? Aren’t you glad to be in church today? Look at your neighbor. Say, “You look extra cute today.” Look at them and say, “You look extremely cute.” Look at your second choice, the other person on the other side, and say, “You look like you could use a little church today.” Come on. Look at them. Don’t you have great pastors? Come on. Give it up for Pastor Chip and Mindy. I just want to let you know I am definitely not as smart as him, but I am way better looking. I just wanted to say that and make that clear.
Hey, I want to introduce my family to you really quickly. They’re going to throw a picture up here. I do have ulterior motives for this picture because my family is good-looking and I’m looking for spouses for them. So, if you have an eligible bachelor or eligible bachelorette, just go to the mug-and-tug or whatever that thing is out there. Let them hug you, steal some money from you and then give them a resume for one of my kids. My son is on the outside there. His name is Colby. He’s 21 years old. The thing that’s great about him is he’s got his own house and a real job. A real job. You know, these days, you’ve got to be careful because people will say, “Yeah, I’m an entrepreneur,” and that is just code for, “I don’t work right now. I’m looking for a job.”
That’s my daughter. She’s 19 years old. Her name is Cabell. It’s an old Virginia name. I’m from Richmond, Virginia. She, actually, just started dating a guy. I’m not sure about him quite yet. He did — this is pretty neat. He did ask me — he wanted to meet with me so he could ask if he could date my daughter, which I thought was very respectful. Isn’t that pretty nice? So, I sat down with him. I’ve been very clear. You know? I’ve been the pastor of my church for 16 years. I’ve been very clear with my church. I said, “Listen, if you come asking to date my daughter or whatever, the first question I’m going to ask you is, ‘Do you tithe?’” That’s the first question. Because if you’ll rob from God, then you’ll rob from me. And then my next question is, “Let me see your W2’s.”
You think I’m lying, but that’s the honest truth because I take my girls out. You know? They go to fancy restaurants. I want them to have a standard that’s way up here. You’re not going to take me to McDonald’s, Bojangles’ or any of that stuff. Chick-fil-A. I mean, I know that’s this Christian food, but you’re not taking me there.
That’s my daughter — my daughter? That’s my wife in the middle. We’ve been married for 26 years. Come on, somebody. Come on. I do have to say this: All in a row. We did it all in a row. There were no breaks in the middle. You have to say that these days. She’s incredible. She just wrote her second cookbook. She’s a phenomenal cook. Phenomenal cook. She’s really good. Southern Kitchen. You can go on our website. If you want to buy a cookbook, go on there. All the proceeds go to missions that we sell it for.
Then that’s my youngest daughter. She’s 17 years old. She is not on the market. I’m just letting you know.
So, what an honor to be with you. I’m so excited. I love your church. What an amazing group of people. Look what the Lord has done in eight years. Come on. Aren’t you thankful for Grace Community Church? I will say this: If you are new here, if you’re a guest here to Grace Community Church, make sure you come back next week because you need to hear your pastor, the pastor of this church, communicate. He is a phenomenal communicator, so you have to come back again next week and listen to him preach.
Let me ask you a question. How many of y’all like to party? Come on. Raise your hand if you like a good party. Come on. This is the 10:15. Y’all slept in today because last night you were at the club getting down. I love a good party. I love it. My family loves to party. We always have parties. Thanksgiving dinner at the Maxwell house this year, we’ll have no less than 25 people at our house. It is just a big party, all day long. My wife loves to party. I love to party. But there are some things that you have to have in order to have a good party. For example, you have to have a good house. This is Pastor Chip’s house. He was okay for me to take a picture. He’s having a party after church today if you want to come over and go swimming in his pool. Come on. Look what the Lord has done in eight years.
This is a nice house, y’all. Wouldn’t this be a great house? A great house to have a party. You also have to have some good music, right? So, you’ve got to have a good DJ. I find that, a good DJ, you never see their face. You never know what they look like. How many of y’all love your worship team? Aren’t they fantastic? Amazing worship. Amazing worship. You also have to have good friends. It’s a little awkward to go to a party all by yourself. But you also don’t want to bring this friend or be this guy right here. You don’t want to be him when you go to a party, or if you’re standing next to him.
I believe that church should be a party. I think, every weekend, we have the potential and the opportunity to celebrate the hope of the world. I believe the mobilized Church is the hope of the world. I think when we gather together, man, there should be an energy, there should be an excitement. We shouldn’t be doom and gloom and everything’s going bad.
Now, let me just let you in on something. The Church is doing real good in the world. Things are going well. People are getting saved. Countries are being changed. Lives are being impacted. Marriages are being healed. Bodies are being changed. God is moving in Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida. Come on, God. It’s because Grace Community Church is doing some great things. The Church is doing well. Every weekend, we should be celebrating. We should be coming here, like, “I’m fired up.”
But there is a group of people that make that happens. A good party happens before and during, and there are a lot of people that do things that you don’t even realize. They take care of your kids. And let me tell you, your kids are tough. They’re hard. They’re not easy. You know what it was like on the way to church today. You wanted to sell them, this morning, on the way to church today. I wanted to sell my kids many times. I threatened them many times. I’ll kill you right now and make another one that looks just like you. You know? I mean, that’s the way it goes with our kids. Your kids are crazy, but we love them at Grace Community. I mean, we take care of them for you. See, there is a group of people that serve behind the scenes. They’re the ones that put the food out. They’re the ones that make the drinks. They’re the ones that get everything together. You don’t really see them.
Today, I want to talk about the difference between the attitude of a volunteer and the attitude of a servant. Because when you come into an environment like this, when you come into a party like this, sometimes we’ve got to exchange the attitude of being a volunteer for the attitude of a servant. Look with me at Philippians 2. Philippians 2. Paul is talking to the Philippian church. They’ll put the Scripture on the screen. You can pull out your Bible. You can cheat on a Christian beside you. Look at Philippians 2:5.
Everybody shout “attitude.” Say it one more time. Say “attitude.”
“The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had.”
So, now, Paul’s going to tell us what that attitude is.
“He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that, by force, he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this,”
I love this part. Instead of assuming or presuming He was equal with God...
“Instead of this, of His own free will...”
In other words, Jesus had this incredible place called heaven, this amazing gift that He had, and He said, “I see a humanity that is divided, that is separated from You, Father. I am willingly going to give myself. I know what it’s going to take. I know the sacrifice that is required. I know I’m going to have to die. I know that’s the way You’ve planned this whole thing out.”
God gave His only begotten Son, and He came to earth of His own free will. He volunteered. He said, “I want to serve the earth,” of His own free will. He gave up all He had. And look at this phrase.
“He took on the nature...”
Everybody say “nature.”
“He took on the nature of a servant,”
Now, this is an interesting word, the word “nature.” Some of your translations may say “form” of a servant, or “appearance” of a servant. This is the Greek word “morphe.” It means to not just have an inward action because a lot of Christians kind of live their life, “Well, you know, God knows my heart. I know I’m a jerk, but God knows my heart. I know, when in traffic, I tell people they’re number one, but God knows my heart.”
And you know what I mean by “number one.” The middle finger, number one. We won’t do that in church because, you know. But you follow what I’m saying. See, this nature, this word “morphe,” actually means appearance, form or outward look. In other words, everywhere Jesus went, people were like, “That guy’s a servant. I know people think He’s the Messiah. I know people think He’s the Son of God. I don’t know that, but there’s something different about Him. On the outside, you can see it.”
“He took on the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death — His death on the cross.”
See, what Jesus taught us is what is exactly opposite of what the world says. The world says, in corporate America, there’s a term called “upward mobility.” I was talking to a friend of mine who works for Bank of America. He used to run all of Merrill Lynch’s retirement. Now he got promoted and now he’s right under the CEO of Bank of America. I was asking him the other day, just the other day, Pastor Chip, and I said, “Hey, what’s it like?”
He goes, “Man, it’s terrible.” I said, “Well, what’s so bad about it? I thought you were excited about it?”
He goes, “Yeah. You know, I didn’t realize how political it was and how competitive it was. People just don’t like each other in this environment.”
I said, “Well, how do you get anything done?”
He goes, “It’s surprising that we do.”
Because people in the world think that in order to go up, you’ve got to kick people, knock people, lie about people, step on people. But Jesus taught us a new way. He said, “In the kingdom of God, if you want to be great, you serve. If you want to get high, you’ve got to go low. If you want to climb the ladder, then you have to serve other people.”
Because the attitude of a servant is totally different. When you serve, it’s all about others. It’s never about me. I’m not thinking about me when I serve. When I serve, it’s about the future. I understand that when I’m helping someone, I’m not just influencing their “now.” I’m actually influencing their tomorrow. I’m having an impact on their eternity. There’s a reward in heaven. Now, I’m not focused on that because what I see in them is all this potential. When I serve them, I am reaching on the inside of them and pulling out the potential that they don’t even know they have. That’s what it’s all about. So, when people walk into this building and you have no idea what they’re coming out of — I mean, they could’ve been yelling and screaming at each other on the way to church. They’re on the verge of divorce. They walk in. “Hi. How are you doing? I’m blessed and highly favored.”
You don’t know what’s going on, but you serving them shows them that Jesus is real. He’s a real person. It’s not just some religious thing we check off every Sunday. This is real. This environment is real. The presence of the Lord is in this place because we serve. We set the stage. We create the platform for them to walk in. Their kids over in Children’s Ministry, those kid’s volunteers over there, they don’t know what those kids came out of. This could be the only hour, hour and fifteen minutes of their life where they have some peace.
Because, when we serve, it’s about others. When we serve, it’s about the future. It’s about reaching, grabbing people’s potential and pulling it out of them. Volunteers, they have a whole different attitude. A volunteer says, “You’re lucky I’m here. You’re lucky I showed up. You know what? You’d better have a cup of coffee for me when I get there. You’d better make sure that I have somewhere to hang my coat and hide my purse because you don’t know how much money I spent on this purse. I need to hide this thing. You’ve got to take care of me and make sure everything is alright. Make sure my latte is 132 degrees. Everything has to be exactly like I want it because, if it’s not, I ain’t going to come. I know you want me to get here at the crack of 9:30 on a Sunday morning, and that’s really early. You don’t know what I did last night, but I’m here and it’s an inconvenience. Don’t inconvenience me.”
That’s how volunteers think. See, you don’t know you’re a servant until you’ve been treated like one. Until you’ve been treated like one. I love when there’s little nuances in the Bible. I don’t know about you, and I know this is a Bible church, but when you read the Bible, have you ever been reading and, all of a sudden, something just jumps off the page at you? You’ve read it for years and years and years and, all of a sudden, you read one phrase and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I never saw that before.”
Well, recently, I was reading through the Scriptures and I saw this phrase. I saw it over and over at the beginning of many of the New Testament epistles; the letters that were written by Paul, James and Peter. They would start off their books by saying, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ.” I never saw that before. James, the Lord’s brother: “James, a bondservant of Jesus Christ.” Peter, when he started his letters: “Peter, a bondservant of Jesus Christ.”
Why would they start their letters off like that? What’s a bondservant? What does it mean to be a bondservant? I started to dig a little bit. I found out that a bondservant is an interesting person. See, what would happen in Bible times if you had debt that you couldn’t pay — let’s say you accumulated a bunch of debt and you couldn’t pay it. They’d throw you in jail. Okay? Do not pass go. Do not collect $100. You are in jail. Okay? Until you pay the debt back. My thinking is how are you going to pay the debt back if you’re in jail?
But what would happen is somebody who was wealthy would come along and they would say, “Hey, listen. I’m going to take care of your debt. In return for me paying off your debt, you’re going to come and serve me. And what would happen is you could only get free from serving that particular master if two things happened. Number one, you served him for seven years. Or the Year of Jubilee, which happened every 50 years, and all debts were released in the Year of Jubilee.
But let’s just say, for instance, that you liked where you were. Like, “I love this family. They paid my debt off. Honestly, even if I got out of jail, there’s no way I was ever going to pay that debt off. There was no way that I could ever take care of that. I’m so thankful for you. I love you. Because I love you, I’m going to stay with you for the rest of my life.”
At that point, the master would take that servant to the front door of the house, which represented their exit. He would put their ear to the doorjamb of the house, they would put a nail through their ear, pierce their ear and put a ring in their ear so that everywhere they went people noticed that ring in their ear and they would say, “Oh, that’s a bondservant of so-and-so.”
See, what I’m thankful of is that we don’t have a Savior who just got His ear pierced. See, He paid a debt for me. I don’t know about you, but He paid a debt for me that there was no way I could ever pay. His hands were pierced. His feet were pierced. His side was pierced. He hung on a cross for me. He paid every — how much more should I lay my life down and never leave the service of the Lord Jesus Christ? Can I get an amen? Can I get an amen? Good place to say amen there.
So, Jesus made this statement in John 14. I love this statement. John 14:12 says, “Most assuredly...”
I read this as a young believer and I was like, “Man, this is an awesome verse right here.”
He said, “Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also.”
Now, Jesus did some cool stuff. Would you agree? Come on. He raised people from the dead. That’s cool. Anybody raise anybody from the dead this week? Doubt it. I mean, I know getting your husband here was like that, but just come on. He cast demons out of people. Come on, somebody. How many of y’all know somebody — don’t point at them right now, but how many of y’all know somebody that needs a demon cast out of them? He opened blind eyes. That’s awesome. Deaf ears. He walked on water. Hello? Anybody ever tried it? Be honest. How many of y’all have every tried walking on water? I have. We’ve all tried it. If you haven’t, you need to try it. Where you live, there’s water everywhere. Just go out to Siesta Key. Just start walking, eyes closed, “Lord, I believe. I believe. I believe. I believe.”
You’ll sink. Everybody does. But look at the rest of the verse. Look at the rest of the verse.
He says, “You’ll do these also, and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father.”
Okay. Well, those are pretty great works. Raising people from the dead? Miracles? Signs? Wonders? What could He mean? What was He talking about when He said “greater works?” What if the greater work was serving? What if the greatest work we can do — now, I’m not discounting miracles. I believe we need to pray for the sick, open blind eyes, help people hear and raise people from the dead. I think that’s a part of the chemistry and what we’re supposed to do as the Church. But what if serving was that greater work? What if, as a community, all of us recognized the power of our serve and we started to change our attitude from “look at me” to “look at Him?” Imagine what we could do in the world. Imagine how we could impact the world.
In Mark 10:45, Jesus made this statement: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,”
Jesus had every right in the world to be served, but He said, “I came here to serve.” When He showed up on the scene, John the Baptist, who recognized who the Messiah was when he baptized Him, said, “That’s the Messiah. That’s the guy. I can’t even tie His shoes. That guy is the man. He should be baptizing me.”
He made this statement in John 3:30: “He must increase; I must decrease.”
See, serving is the ministry of decrease. It’s one of the hardest things you can do because our humanity always wrestles with our ego. Because we want to be seen, we want to be known, we want to be recognized. We all have some insecurities, y’all. Let’s be honest. We all have some desire to say, “Hey, did you see what I really did there?”
See, I learned this at a young age. I learned this whole volunteer/servant thing. This is a very passionate thing for me because I learned this when I was about 25 years. I got saved in 1990; radically saved. I met this girl named Penny in a fraternity party. I was dressed like a tree. I don’t know why she was there at the party. She tells me she was designated driving, but I don’t know. But I saw her across the way. I was a little intoxicated. You know? It was BC: Before Christ days. I’m looking across there and I prophesied. I didn’t know I was prophesying at the time. I said, “I’m going to marry that girl,” and I did. It worked. I gave her my best line. “Will you hold my beer?” That’s the best thing I had. True story. True story.
We fall in love. She took me to church. My life got radically changed. I was drinking. I was an alcoholic. I was doing drugs. My mom was a drug dealer. My dad was an alcoholic and had third-degree head trauma from alcohol. Just really bad stuff. Just really bad. God radically changed my life.
Well, about five years into my salvation experience, I felt like, “Man, I’m called to preach.” I would watch my pastor preach on the platform. I’m like, “Dude, I can do that. That’s easy. He’s making that look easy. I can do that.”
So, I set an appointment to meet with my pastor to tell him of my gift, to let him know who he had sitting in his congregation. So, I take my big ol’ Bible, you know? I go into Thursday night. I’m sitting down to talk to him. I said, “Pastor Randy, I feel called to preach.”
Now, in my mind, I thought he was going to go, “Yes, you are.”
Now, I’d never done it before. I’d never led anybody to the Lord. I barely knew the Bible. I mean, I had to use the table of contents to find the book of maps. I mean, it was bad. It was bad. Really bad. So, I sat down. He was very kind. He just listened, smiled and shook his head. He was like, “Yeah, right. Yeah, right. Okay. Okay.”
He goes, “Okay, Troy. You feel called to preach? I’ve got an opportunity for you. Why don’t you go, on Tuesday nights, to this under-55 Medicaid facility. You can start your preaching career there. I said, “Yes. I’m there. They’re going to love me in this place. They’re going to fall head over heels for me, Preaching Troy. Pastor Troy. Not the rapper, but Pastor Troy.”
Some of you don’t know what I’m talking about, and that’s alright. Don’t go looking it up. Don’t go. That’s for the young people in the crowd. So, I show up on that Tuesday night. I’m supposed to meet a girl named Melissa there. I’m supposed to meet Melissa. She’s supposed to train me. Y’all, she never shows up because she’s thankful to get rid of this.
I realize, later, why. I’m sitting there in the lobby, and just to give you an idea of what an under-55 Medicaid facility looks like, just go to Walmart at about two or three o’clock in the morning, and there it is right there. That’s what it looks like. I mean, people were walking around, they were talking to themselves, they were answering themselves. Some of them were naked. I mean, it was horrible, but I’m called to preach. “They’re going to love me here. This is going to be awesome.”
So, I went to the front desk. I said, “My name is Troy Maxwell. I’m called to preach.” True story. “Melissa didn’t show up. What do you want me to do?”
They’re like, “Just go do whatever you want.” They don’t care. I’ll fit right in by the time — they’re thinking, “This guy’s crazy.”
So, I go knock on the door of one of the people, Barry. True story. Barry answers the door. Barry’s normal for about the first 10 minutes. Then I realize Barry needs medicine. I get out of there as fast as I can. So, I’ll go knock on the second door. This kid answers the door. He’s like 22 or 23 years old. Right around my age. I’m just a few years older than him. His name is Lance. I said, “Hey, Lance. My name is Troy. I’m from Faith Landmarks Ministries. I’m just kind of talking to people. I’d love to have a Bible study with you.”
He goes, “Sure, man. Come on in.”
We sit down, we start talking, and in the middle of my spiel — I knew one verse really good; one story, John 4, so I’m just reading the Woman at the Well. You know? I’m killing it for about two minutes and this guy busts in the room. He busts in the room and he goes, “Hey! I want to join you guys. I’m a homosexual and I’m a Jehovah’s Witness. I heard there’s a Bible study in this room.”
I’m like, “Oh, Jesus. What in the world is going on?”
So, he sits down and I just keep doing my thing. At the end of it, I’m like, “These guys need Jesus. They need to get saved.” So, the only way I knew how to do an altar call was watching my pastor do it. He said, “Bow your head. Close your eyes.”
There’s only three of us in the room. “Bow your head. Close your eyes. If you need Jesus, if you want Him to come into your life, I’m going to count to three. Raise your hand.”
I thought about raising my hand, too, just in case. They both raised their hands. I lead them to the Lord. I go back. I go back every week. Every Tuesday, I start going back. About four or five weeks into it, me and Lance are sitting together. I say, “Hey, where’s our friend?”
He goes, “Troy, he died.”
I said, “What?”
He goes, “Yeah. He had AIDS. He was a diabetic.”
I had no idea. I had no idea what was going on. See, had I never done that, that guy would’ve never known Jesus. He’s in heaven now. See, this is when everything started to shift. At that moment, I started to realize this isn’t about me. I continued with Lance. Every week, I would go and just share. I’m learning. You know? I’m learning about God just as much as Lance is. Lance finally gets out of the facility. We kind of stay in touch for a little bit. He comes to church some. Fast forward to 2002. God calls my wife and I to go plant a church in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was afraid. I didn’t know what was going on. I’d never done anything like this before. I was freaking out. This is like eight years later. That week, I’m picking up my family, y’all. I’ve got a four-year-old, a two-year-old and a just-born. I’m moving them to a city. I didn’t know anybody in this city. I didn’t have any relationships in this city. I didn’t have any money. People were asking me if they can go with me and I said, “No. Please don’t go because I don’t know if it’s going to work. I don’t want to be responsible for these people who move to Charlotte with me and it doesn’t work out. I don’t know if this church thing’s going to work. I just feel like I got a word from God and I’m going to go do it.”
So, I’m driving down the road in Richmond, Virginia. I glance over my shoulder, I look and there’s a guy that’s sitting on a front porch of a house and it looks like Lance. I stop and pull my car over to the side of the road. I run up to the front porch and I said, “Lance, is that you?”
He goes, “Troy! What’s up?”
Lance says, “Man.”
See, what I’d learned about Lance during that Bible study is Lance had tried to kill himself four times. He was on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicine. His parents had basically given up on him. They didn’t know what to do with this kid. He says, “Troy, I got out of the facility. I’m not on anti-anxiety medicine anymore. I’m not on anti-depression medicine. I realize I’ve got something to live for. Guess what? This is my house. I own this house. I’ve had a job ever since you left.”
See, you really don’t know how your serve is going to impact somebody. You have no idea. So, I want to give you a few things here that I think are attitudes of a servant. You may want to write these down. Write these down. The first is that volunteering is something you do, but serving is from the heart. Volunteering is something you do. Serving is from the heart. The last disciple to die was a guy by the name of John. They could not kill the guy. They got so upset with John that they actually excommunicated him to the Isle of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation.
The last picture that you have with John and Jesus together was right before Jesus went to the cross. The Bible says, in John 13, that the disciple whom Jesus loved had his head, or was in the bosom of Jesus. In other words, he had his head on His chest. See, this is the posture of a servant. A servant always has his ear to the heart of God.
Listen to me very closely. If you do not know the will of God for your life, if you’re just trying to discover your purpose — I’m not just talking about a job or a career. Over 80% of Christians sit in churches every Sunday and they have no idea why they’re here on this earth. I believe the number one way that you can find your call from God, what the will of God is for your life, is to serve because, when you serve, your ear goes to the heart of God. It goes to the heart of God. You are never more like God than when you forgive and you are never more like Jesus than when you serve.
Number two. Write this down. Volunteers focus on what they can give. Servants focus on what Jesus gave. In North Carolina, there’s a city called Moravian Falls. I did a little research. The Moravians were known as the greatest missionaries in the world. They have evangelized places that nobody has ever gone before. Some of the greatest missionaries. In 1920, there were two Moravian missionaries who had discovered this island that had 3,000 slaves on it that had never, ever received or heard the Gospel. Never. What they decided to do is they decided that they would basically sell themselves. In order to get onto the island, they had to sell themselves to slavery. They had to give up everything for the sake of slavery. All of it. Give it all away.
On the last day, they were getting ready to leave. They were on the boat. Their family and everybody was on the side. They screamed out, as they were leaving on the boat, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.”
In other words, what I’m doing has nothing compared to what Jesus did for me. See, servants focus on what Jesus gave. Write this down: Volunteers keep score. Servants make sacrifices. They make sacrifices. Volunteers stay in charge. Servants give up control. They realize serving costs us something. If you want to be like Jesus, there’s a price you have to pay. Simon Sinek said, “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats someone who can do nothing for him.”
Volunteers are time-sensitive. Servants are need-sensitive. In other words, servants are available. They’re open. They’re accessible. They’re reachable. They’re open to interruption. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? This guy is thrown on the ground. He’s been beaten. He’s left half-dead. Jesus said a pastor comes by and walks away. A demon — I mean a deacon comes by and walks away.
Sorry. That just kind of slipped out. And then it says, “A Samaritan walks by, picks the guy up, puts him on his own animal, takes him down to the Hilton, gives them his credit card and says, ‘Take care of everything. Whatever you need, I’ll take care of it.’”
Because, see, servants understand that a life with Jesus is a life of interruption. If we really want to help people, we’re going to be interrupted in our life. We’re going to find that, as we’re going through our life, there’s going to be opportunities that just come out of the blue and we can’t just walk by the need. God’s going to put His finger on your heart to do something next week at your office that nobody else wants to do.
“Oh, come on, God. I’ve got so much to do.”
“Yeah, but you can change somebody’s world.”
Volunteers want themselves to look good. Servants want God to look good. I realize, in my life, I’m a highway sign. My job is not to be the destination. As a leader of a church, my job is to point people to God, to point people where they need to go, and say, “Hey, listen. I’m not the big deal. He is. He’s the one that has your answer. He’s the one that can do something for you. He’s the one. Just go down here. Take a left down here. It’s just a couple steps away. Just a couple miles away and your life can be changed. Just a couple weeks away and your whole marriage will be completely renovated. I’m just a highway sign.”
And here’s the last thing: Volunteering makes you superior. Serving makes you humble. See, if you’re too big for the small things, listen church, you’re too small for the big things. You never know — and I’m almost done — when you’re going to come across your Lance. You never know. It could be today when you’re out to lunch, you look over and you see that family, a husband and wife, and they’re not talking. The Lord just kind of touches your heart and says, “Hey, buy them lunch. Take care of them.”
It could be as simple as serving here, which I think is so important in this house that we prepare the way for people who don’t know Christ to walk through these doors and experience something they have never experienced before. Look, it’s not going to be Pastor Chip. It’s not going to be Pastor Tom. It’s going to be us, together, doing that. It means that we have to exchange the attitude of a volunteer. I’m just a sign. I’m just pointing you this way. I’m going to get out of the way so you can meet Jesus, so your life can be changed forever. Because, one day — and this is what I want in my life. When I stand before God, I want Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Not “pastor.” Not “pastor.” Not “church leader.” No. Servant. Servant.
Father, thank You for today. Thank You for what You’re doing in this amazing place, God. I pray that You would continue to speak to us.
As a matter of fact, if you’re here today — every head bowed, every eye closed. Really quickly. Sixty more seconds. If you’re here today and you say, “You know what? I’m not really serving like I should be. I need to take a step. I’ve been looking at this wrong. I realize there’s probably a Lance on the other side. There’s somebody that’s waiting on the other side of my obedience today.”
I want to challenge you to step up. I want to challenge you to get involved. Take another step. A lot of times, people just come in and out, in and out, in and out. They just sit in the back. Maybe you’re here today and you’ve been hurt by church. “I’m just going to sit for a little while.”
No, no. God didn’t tell us to do that. He commanded us to serve and to get involved.
“Well, they might hurt me again.”
Yeah. They might. It might happen. People are people, but you’re not doing it for them. You’re doing it for God. If that’s you, if you’d say, “Man, I need that little push today,” would you just put your hand on your heart? Just put your hand right on your heart and say, “That’s me.”
I want to pray for you. Father, I thank You for their honesty today. I thank You for what they’re doing and what You’re doing in their life today. Father, I thank You that this message, this word that You have today, will drop from our head down into our heart. Father, we will lean in to listen to what You have for us. God, as we step up, God, as we take that step, I pray that You would use us powerfully. There are Lances all over this city that need a touch from God. We want to be the church that does and reaches them.
In Jesus’ name we pray, and everybody said, “Amen.”
Hey, God bless you guys.