Who do you serve in your heart?
In your heart is part of a fundamental question that few people honestly ask themselves- especially when it comes to God. Often we believe, or we begin to honestly do something kingdom related for God, but sometimes things internally such as selfish ambition, pride, arrogance, or various other character flaws get in the way of serving God with our hearts. We need to question ourselves regularly as to what our true motives are, and strive to have them always remain pure. The only one we tend to deceive in this area is ourselves, since God always knows our heart.
In attempting to decipher our true motives, we must be both mindful of where our heart is, and ask God to reveal our hearts to us regularly. This way you will know when you have veered off course in your serving the Lord. Selfish ambition and pride too easily creep in when we are unaware, and they take away from us serving the Lord. When we serve, it should be all about Him, and not about us for it to be glorious. If you truly believe that God will promote you (if that is your desire), then you need to be content in your heart as to where you are, and serve with joy. A lack of joy, enthusiasm, or complaining denotes a heart that is not serving the Lord, and if that is the case, then you need to ask for God’s forgiveness. Don’t worry if you fall into this category, though, it happens to all of us at some time or another without us realizing it. It tends to happen when we start to do things in our own strength instead of relying on God’s grace.
A true test of character comes not in the good times, but in times of stress. Even those who can “fake it” or who aren’t being sincere are quickly discovered under pressure. Things and behavior can only be contained for so long before it erupts. This is not to say that we don’t have character flaws (no one is perfect and we all have things that we are working through), but a true heart after God will repent quickly, and/or seek to make things right. A heart that has ulterior motives will seek to do damage control, lie, or blame.
So how can you tell the difference? Let’s take a look at the servant’s heart.
Someone who serves the Lord does so with joy because there is a joy in serving the Lord. They are not prideful, because they have nothing to be puffed up about- their goal is not to please themselves, but to please the Lord. There is no selfish ambition, because they are happy with wherever God places them. They know that promotion comes from the Lord, and wherever the Lord places them, He will use their talents and abilities to shine. People who serve the Lord tend to have happy, functioning teams around them. They are easy to work with because there are no ulterior motives, nor is there any manipulation or back biting. They are reliable, and always ready to lend a hand- without any expectation.
A person who is not serving with a pure heart will seek to manipulate the situation and/or people around them. Sometimes they will only agree to serve in a certain area or position of interest. Some obviously grumble and complain. This is usually about other people that they are trying to assert themselves over or where there is some rivalry going on. This is in the event that if there is any promotion, they appear in the best light and are sure to be selected first. It is important to note, however, that not all grumbling and complaining is due to ulterior motives. It can also be indicative of doing something on your own strength, or burn out as well. The difference between the later statement and the former is that a person with ulterior motives will come across as insincere to people that come into contact with them on a regular basis. Something will appear to be “off”. There is often an atmosphere of competition and jockeying. They put others down, or minimize their contributions to make themselves look good, and in the end their motives are always discovered. It make not take long for these people to be discovered (depending on how deceptive they are) or it may take a longer time, depending on the personality. Some people can fake it really well, and there are some who are artificial to others and even to themselves. However, God will always reveal impure motives.
Everything in determining a servant’s heart comes down to character. King David did things that were wrong, but he was also quick to repent. He consulted with God as to what to do acknowledging that strength and grace both come from the Lord. God wants us to be obedient and trustworthy. He will test your heart.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10
This scripture means that a person with a right heart and a right attitude can be trusted with a little responsibility. When they serve, they do so with excellence no matter what position they are in. It can be cleaning toilets or vacuuming, but they do it well. They may not enjoy it, per se, but they still do it well and without complaint. You can rely on them to get it done and know that they will do it well. They are reliable. God will reward people with this type of heart because He knows where there heart is, there are no ulterior motives, and they will do their job with excellence. In short, they have good character, and those with good character God will promote because they will lead and inspire others with that same attitude.
Servant leadership is all about putting others first, not about exalting yourself or making yourself look good at all costs. Servant leaders take care of the needs of their team. They correct in love and gently. They are caring and compassionate. They will thank people regularly for their contributions, and let everyone know they are appreciated in some way. No one is left feeling like they have been used, or taken for granted. They are also quick to apologize for anything they may have said that was wrong, or any perceived misdeeds. They are teachable, and correctable. They are the ones that work tirelessly to get things done, and done with excellence. They are the ones who stay after and pitch in when necessary. They lead, but also have a cohesive team. People tend to want to help out this type of leader without resistance, and will go over and above.
Their area flourishes, grows and expands. The true difference felt in a servant leader is that a servant leader will seek to meet the highest priority needs of others being served. The people that they serve grow as individuals. The people in their team become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and are more likely in turn to become servants. The true test is that the people that they serve become better and more empowered with them around. Even those who aren’t in a leadership role actively contribute to the betterment of the team. They are full of useful suggestions, and because their heart is pure, they don’t actively seek credit for their suggestions. Acknowledgement is always appreciated, but not necessary because they are secure in who they are in Christ, and are serving Him from a place within their heart.
Servant leaders focus on growth and well-being of those around them. While traditional leadership involves the exercise of power by someone designated in a hierarchy, servant leadership shares power, places others needs first, and helps develop people and allows them to perform to their talents.
In short, the servant’s heart is geared more towards the well being of a collective and not of self. It operates in a mentoring and group capacity as opposed to a singular.
When a leader sees themselves as part of a team, has a genuine concern for those around them, and mentors others, it is highly unlikely character flaws such as pride and selfish ambition will surface. True leaders lead by example- a godly example- and recognize that if they expect a certain attitude/behavior from their team, then they themselves should personify it.
So who, in your heart, do you serve? Is there selfishness somewhere inside of you? If so, then realize that sometimes it happens to the best of us, but if God is convicting you, then it is something that you need to repent of. It is for your betterment, ultimately, because then God can use you in a greater capacity.
When we truly serve God, out of the sheer beauty of it we attain victory. It enables God to give us more responsibility because we will set a godly example to others. God can use us and promote us easily. Our light will shine no matter what we do, or whether or not we are recognized for our efforts. We will be known for our fruit, whether it is good or bad. Also serving God from our hearts initiates joy in our spirit. There is a deep satisfaction of serving God over man, and with it comes the knowledge that no matter what you do you will make a difference in someone’s life. People, simply put, will be drawn to you, and you will enable others to walk in the same victory.
The last thought that I will leave you with is that pride always comes before a fall. God promotes, and God removes people. If Satan wants to take you out, he will use pride to do it, so always watch your heart. Pride cannot stand because there is no love in it, and it is self-seeking. Avoid it at all costs because it will cost you in the end.