How to Live with a Servant's Heart

by Rich Stearns, President of World Vision on January 25, 2016

The Gospels often portray Jesus’ disciples as ignorant of the things Jesus was trying to teach. They didn’t understand He would have to die. They didn’t understand His parables. When Jesus explained His teachings to them, they asked, “How can this be?”

Despite their misunderstandings, the disciples are examples to us in their readiness to follow Jesus. We see this for the first time in Matthew 4:19-20 (NIV)— “ ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”

At once they left their nets.

And these fishermen didn’t just leave their beloved nets to follow Jesus, they left their entire lives to exchange their plans for His. They didn’t offer excuses. They didn’t say they had just invested in a new boat, for example; they didn’t explain that their business was just taking off. Instead, they dropped everything and followed Jesus.

With a servant’s heart, each one of the disciples accepted Jesus’ invitation to join Him in His world-changing work. This invitation wasn’t to attend a pleasant party, and accepting it certainly didn’t promise an easy life.

In fact, Jesus says that whoever wants to follow Him must choose a life of suffering for the kingdom’s sake.

In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus declares, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must
deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

I’m not sure about you, but that doesn’t sound to me like a winning invitation. I know that when God called me away from my corporate career, I agonized, even wept. I listed all the things I would be giving up. But the disciples simply dropped what they were doing and followed Jesus.

I believe that God expects much more of us than just going to church on Sundays, reading our Bibles, saying grace before meals, and believing the right things. We have to be willing to drop whatever is in our hands in order to be used for His purposes. We have to be available for service, and we need to be willing to pay the price that comes with it.

If we’re going to change the world, God is going to take us out of our comfort zones. But what a gift it is to play a part in God’s larger plan when we finally surrender our lives to His! After all, when it comes to changing the world, we as believers are His plan A—and He doesn’t have a plan B.

Discussion Points

  • We willingly make sacrifices for whatever we worship in our lives. What are the things you are making sacrifices for? What does that say about your priorities?
  • What things do you “serve” that may take priority over God?
  • What are the important and essential things in your life, like a career or other obligations? Could you give these up to follow Jesus?
  • How can you negotiate the differences between your will and God’s plan?
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