Service is at the heartbeat of every Christian leader. It is not just an action, but a change of perspective. It is not only a different way of relating to the world, but a different way of relating to yourself.
Henri Nouwen was a highly respected Catholic Priest and theologian. He made it to the top of his field, teaching at the Divinity Schools of both Yale and Harvard. In other words, he was at the pinnacle of academia. Yet, something was still missing.
In 1986, Nouwen moved to L'Arche Daybreak, a community for intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals located in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Nouwen spent the last ten years of his life serving those who could not help themselves. Through his experience, Nouwen's choice to serve others gave him a deeper perspective of God, life, and faith.
Henri Nouwen was a servant, but why should a business leader care about service?
1. The Kingdom of God is Different.
Jesus followers live in a kingdom with a different set of rules. Under Jesus' rule, the purpose of life is no longer to gain power, authority, or status. Rather the purpose of life, the way to find significance and purpose, is through serving others.
Matthew 20:26-28 says, "Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (NIV).
The Kingdom of God abolished the need for power and rank, so let your perspective change accordingly.
Your life is not about you, nor is it for you.
Paul says in Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves" (NIV). Throughout the Bible, we are consistently reminded that our life is not about us. Our success, goals, and desires are all second to God's.
We have a higher purpose in life, and that is to serve our Creator. The best way can serve God is by serving those He has placed in our path.
At the same time, some may say that your goals, success, and desires are important. They would be right, but only if they align with God's purposes in the world. You must ask yourself, "What is the fruit being produced by my work?"
When all is said and done, are you the lone beneficiary of your work or is the harvest plentiful? Point blank, your life is not about you, but God is more than happy to use it for His glory.
Service is a habit.
Service is a byproduct of following Jesus, which is a choice. In the midst of a typical week, your schedule is full and your life is busy. For many of you, the pace of life probably doesn't slow down very often. Finding ways and time to serve can be a challenge. The answer?
Make service a habit by putting on a new lens.
Stop seeing your schedule as a barrier, and start seeing it as an opportunity.
Stop seeing your schedule as a list of things to get done, but rather a list of people to serve.
Your life can become one of service, but only if you flip your perspective. One week, one day, one meeting at a time. Just like any habit, service requires intentionality.
Simply stated, serve on purpose.
Like Nouwen, your purpose can become fuzzy and your life can become empty without a healthy dose of service. The more self-focused you become, the less long-term satisfaction you will feel.
As you selflessly serve others, you will be reminded of how Christ has served you first. You will be reminded of the extra mile that He has gone on your behalf.
Embrace the Kingdom of God, remember that your life has a higher purpose, and make service a habit. Allow your life to reflect onto others what Christ has lavished upon you.
Become an ambassador for Christ and serve in whatever arena God has placed you. That is what the Kingdom of God is all about.