Ever since I first gave my life to the Lord and received His forgiveness for my sins at 13 years old, I have wanted to serve Him, to please Him. I haven’t always done so, but I’ve wanted to.
It has been my deepest desire for many, many years now to fulfill God’s plan for my life. And to one day be able to hear my Saviour say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)
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I love to think about that moment while listening to this song, Well Done, by The Afters.
But along with that desire to hear “Well done,” I’ve also had this worry in the back of my mind—
What if I get it wrong, and spend my life doing something God didn’t even have in His plans for me? Then I’d surely not hear “Well done.”
However, God finally put that concern to rest. You can read about what He taught me here.
Another concern through the years has been whether I truly have a servant’s heart. After all, how can I expect to hear “Well done,” if I don’t have and live out a servant’s heart? For it is the heart behind our actions that matters most. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
So, I’ve tried to determine if I have a servant’s heart. There are times when I don’t feel like I have a servant’s heart. I see others who seem to have more of a servant’s heart than I do. They seem to just naturally know what to do to help in any situation. But I don’t. Then I begin to condemn myself feeling that I fall so far short of what it will take to be a servant who will hear, “Well done.”
But I do know this…God calls us all to be servants.
Therefore, we all can be!
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
Whether it comes “naturally” through the spiritual gift of service (not my gift) or through a more conscious effort to allow God to lead and live through us to serve Him and others, we all can be faithful servants of our God.
But how? If service isn’t our spiritual gift or part of our natural personality, how can we learn to be servants that please the Lord?
5 Characteristics of a True Servant of the Lord
In the book of Mark, I see 5 characteristics of a servant’s heart. Let’s look at these, and not our feelings or comparisons to others, and see how we measure up to God’s standard.
1) A true servant of the Lord has a sure knowledge of Who Jesus is.
Jesus asks His disciples who the people had been saying that He is. Then asks them,
And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. Mark 8:29
And that’s what really matters. Isn’t it? Not what others think about Jesus, but what we ourselves choose to believe.
We must know for ourselves Who Jesus is. Peter knew. Do you?
Without that understanding we cannot possibly be a servant of the Lord, but rather, are servants of the devil! For Jesus said to those who did not know Him…
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. John 8:44
Who do you serve?
2) A true servant of the Lord practices self-denial.
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Mark 8:34
I am a goal-oriented person. If I start something, it worries me until I get it done. I have to finish what I started. So, interruptions are a little hard for me to handle. I guess I have a one-track mind. It is hard for me to stop and redirect my thoughts and efforts.
But I have to remind myself that to be a servant, I have to be available…when needed. And that…
I admit that I am a work in progress.
But if I want to be a servant of the Lord, I must be willing to serve others. To turn loose of what I want to get done and put the other person’s need ahead of my own.
I have to ask myself, “How important is it for eternity that I finish this project today, compared to the impact my kindness could have on that person’s heart and life?”
Even a really small kindness can have a huge impact.
For we don’t know what that person is going through now or has gone through in the past. What if they’ve hardly ever had someone put them first and care about them? And demonstrate to them Jesus’ love?
Do you ever find yourself putting people off?
We moms do this a lot with our children, don’t we?
Maybe your child needs your help with tying his shoes, or with a school project. Or maybe he just wants you to come outside and look at what he made to play with. Do you go right then, or do you put him off?
“In a minute, baby.”
And an hour later, you suddenly realize you were supposed to go do something with him/her.
I’m reminded of the quote—
The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.Oscar Wilde
3) A true servant of the Lord is a worker.
For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
Jesus did not live His life for His own comfort. He never sought fame or fortune. He came to serve. His one goal was to minister to all who came to Him and to put us first…to the point of giving up His own life for our sake!
Jesus worked to the point of extreme fatigue, constantly being available to everyone who sought a moment with Him. He healed, He taught, and He fed thousands. He walked countless miles, and lost much needed sleep. As His fame grew, time to Himself became a precious commodity.
But that was O.K, because Jesus’ goal was to be a help to others. To work and serve…while He was here.Our lives, too, won’t last forever. Our good health won’t last forever. Therefore, we too, must work while we’re still here, while we still can, to serve God by serving others that God brings into our lives. (John 9:4)
4) A true servant of the Lord has compassion on others, following Jesus’ example.
Compassion can be defined as love in action. Compassion helps.
but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. (Mark 9:22)
It doesn’t mean much for me to say “I love you,” if I never show it. For those in need, words are pretty useless. (James 2:16) I love the example of Dorcas in Acts 9.
Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. Acts 9:36, 39
Dorcas saw a way that she could be a help to others in need. Notice she wasn’t full of good works…only in her thoughts, her intentions. She had good works “which she did.” Instead of just thinking about how awful it was that these women were suffering from the cold, she had compassion on them. And did something about it!
And in so doing she showed and shared the love of Christ.
Many times, we allow the fact that there is such a huge amount of suffering in the world to discourage us from even trying to do anything at all to help. But..
If all we can do is help one person, then there is one less person out there in need.
No, we cannot eliminate poverty, or world hunger, or wars, or human trafficking, or homelessness, etc. But we can help…One at a time!
Dorcas made those coats…one at a time. Helping one woman at a time. In one way. The way that she could.
5) A true servant of the Lord exhibits courage.
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of meand of my wordsin this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Mark 8:38
Has God ever asked you to do something in service to Him and you found yourself battling an internal war? Telling yourself all the reasons why you surely must have misunderstood what God was telling you?I have, too.
Have you ever told the Lord things like these?
I can’t teach Sunday School (or give my salvation testimony, or sing in the choir, or help in VBS, etc.), Lord. I’m too shy to stand up in front of people.
Lord, that isn’t a safe neighborhood to go door-to-door witnessing in.
I don’t know anything about those kinds of needs, Lord. And besides, I’m just one person and the need is huge!
But all those excuses are simply fear.
The opposite of courage.
When we aren’t willing to stand with God and for Him, then we are saying to the world that we are ashamed of Him. We don’t think enough of God to take courage and do what we know He expects of us.
If we truly desire to be servants of the Lord, we must let go of our fears and excuses and simply say, “Yes, Lord.”
And be like Isaiah who, when the Lord called him, said…
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:8
Isaiah didn’t stop to find out the details to determine whether he thought he could handle the assignment, whether it might be too hard, or outside his comfort zone. He simply volunteered! Made himself available to God.
And trusted God to do the rest!
And that is all we have to do to be a true servant of the Lord. Be available for His use!
Do you really want to be a servant of the Lord? Tell God so, like Isaiah did. And get started.
Do the next thing you know to do to be a help, wherever God has you right now.
Then He will direct your path into more and more service for Him.
Drawing nigh to Him,
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.
What is God asking you to do to serve Him and others? How are you currently serving others in your home, your workplace, your church, or your community? Please share to help us all with ideas of how we, too, can look for ways to serve others.