Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Highest Calling

Leslie Basham: Here’s author and speaker Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s so easy to look around and sometimes we think God’s asking us to do more than He asks others to do. We start to compare, we say, “Somebody else work here now. It’s time for somebody else to chip in. I’ve done enough. I’ve done my part. Why do I have to keep serving?”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

It’s a lot easier to be a servant at 9 in the morning than it is to be a servant at 4 in the afternoon. After spending all day with active toddlers or a parent who’s in the hospital or a pile of paperwork, acting out of a servant’s heart can get old.

How do you continue to serve at that point? Here’s Nancy to give us some insight, continuing in the series "Serving Like the Savior."

Nancy: We’re talking in a series about what I think is one of the most important and most overlooked and least common qualities in the Christian life and in relationships in general. That’s this whole issue of having a servant’s heart, being a servant, practicing biblical servanthood.

So we want to examine what servanthood is, what a servant’s heart looks like, how we get one, and how we know if we have one. We said in the last session that there are two Greek words in the New Testament that are translated servant in our English Bibles. We looked at the first of those two words, and I want to continue looking at that one today. In the next session we’ll pick up on the second word.

The first word was the word doulos (d-o-u-l-o-s). It’s the word that in some of your Bibles is translated bondservant. It’s a relationship of submission and subjection that a man has to his master. It’s a permanent, lifetime arrangement. It’s a voluntary arrangement.

This man we saw back in Exodus chapter 21 was free to go, but he said, “I love my master. I want to stay with my master. I’m going to let you pierce a hole in my ear as a symbol, a sign that I belong to you, and I want to serve you for the rest of my life.”

I believe God gave us that picture in the Old Testament to help us know what it was like to be a servant of Jesus Christ—which is our highest calling in life.

Now we’re going to see later in this series that we’re also called to serve others, to be a blessing to others. Sometimes it’s harder to serve others than it is to serve Jesus because others aren’t always as good to us as Jesus is to us. But we need to understand that we can’t really serve others effectively if we’re not first a servant of Jesus Christ.

In Colossians chapter 3 the apostle Paul talks about this matter of servanthood, a servant’s heart. He says in verse 22, “Slaves [or servants or employees], obey in everything those who are your earthly masters.” He’s talking about the relationships between employees and employers. He says do what they tell you to do, “not by way of eye-service, as people pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men” (vv. 22–23).

He says, “You’ve got this boss. He’s telling you to do something. Do what he tells you to do, but don’t just do it to make him happy. Do your job. Do it well. Work hard at it because you fear the Lord.” Do it for the Lord, not ultimately for your boss. When you’re cleaning your room, when you’re cleaning at the store where you work, when you’re fulfilling tasks at your school or your job or in your home, do it for the Lord.

By the way, that has a way of making the most menial tasks take on meaning. If I know I’m doing this for Christ—I’m not just doing this for my husband or for my parents or for my friends or for my boss—I’m doing this for the Lord.

Then he says, Colossians 3:24, “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” You are the doulos of Jesus Christ. You are the bondservant of Christ. That is a primary relationship in the Christian life. Yes, we are sons and daughters of God. We are set apart to be His children, but we are also His loving, willing servants, doulos. He is our master. We are His servants.

Now, let’s expand just a little bit more on what it looks like to be a doulos of Jesus Christ, to be a servant of Jesus Christ. So I want us to look today at some marks of a servant of Christ.

One of the first marks I see in the Scripture is that when you are a doulos of someone, you are the servant, the bondservant of the Lord, it speaks of a relationship of dependence on your master. You are dependent on your master to meet your needs. You are dependent on your master to provide for you. The master provides for his servants; he doesn't provide for others' servants. Our Master provides for His servants.

I love that passage in Psalm 123:2 where it says, “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, and as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God.” A servant looks to the hand of her mistress or her master to provide for her, to meet her needs, to give her her food, to give her the supplies she needs to do her job. The Scripture says we look to the Lord to meet our needs. You can know that your needs will be met when Jesus is your master and you are His doulos.

Now when we are the doulos of Jesus Christ, we’re not free to do just what we please. We exist to please our master, so we don’t determine which tasks we want to do and which ones we don’t want to do. “Oh Lord I’ll do this, but I won’t do that.” You hear people say, "I was so afraid if I surrendered to the Lord He would make me go to a missionary to wherever, some uninhabited region of the world, some place where they don't have running water." There is this fear. "I'll do this, but I won't do that."

Or, “If I really surrender my life to the Lord, He will never let me get married," or "He’ll never let me have children," or "He will make me give my children up to serve the Lord on the mission field."

You know what? When you’re the doulos of the Lord, it’s His job to decide where we go, what we do. He makes the assignments, and we do what He says. So if you’re a doulos, that means you’re available to your master. You're available 24/7—whatever He wants me to do, wherever He wants me to go.

“Availability,” someone has said, “is making my own schedule and my own priorities secondary to the wishes of the one I’m serving.” If I'm a doulos, then my own schedule and my own priorities are secondary to the wishes of my master. I’m available.

I can't say, "I don't have time to do that. I want to do this. That's not on my to-do list. That's not on my agenda." He makes our agenda. He makes our to-do list. He determines our schedule. He determines our priorities.

Another mark of a doulos is humility. The doulos does not promote his own name. He does not promote his own agenda. He’s not looking to make a name for himself. His reputation doesn’t matter. What does matter is his master’s reputation. He wants people to think well of his master. He wants to do a good job so people will think his master is a good person.

Of course, the ultimate example of a humble doulos, a humble servant, was the Lord Jesus. Remember reading about that in Philippians chapter 2 where it says, “He made Himself of no reputation”? Jesus, who was God, the King of the universe, the Creator of the world made Himself of no reputation. He didn't go around braggin about who He was.

“He took the form of a servant. And being found in human form He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (vv. 7–8 NKJV). The humility of Jesus—that’s the picture of a doulos. Not my reputation, but His—the Master's. "His is the reputation I want to promote."

Now a doulos represents his master in everything. When people ask the doulos or the bondservant a question, they don’t want to know, “What do you think?” They want to know, “What does your master think?” You represent your master in everything when you’re a doulos.

When you’re a doulos, you have no rights. You have yielded your rights. Your only right is to do what your master wants you to do. But remember, why you would do this? Because you love your master, because you know that he is good, and because you want to please him.

A doulos gives and gives and gives without limit. He doesn't say, "I'll do this and no more. I've done my share of work. It's time for someone else to chip in now." It’s so easy to look around and sometimes we think God’s asking us to do more than He asks others to do. We start to compare that and say, “Somebody else work here now. It’s time for somebody else to chip in. I’ve done enough. I’ve done my part. Why do I have to keep serving?” You know what? When you’re a doulos, you keep serving. You give and you give and you give and then you keep giving. A doulos gives without limit.

A doulos is committed to meeting the needs of others for his master. On behalf of his master he gives to meet the needs of others. A doulos is obedient. That’s a mark of a doulos, a servant. His obedience to his master is immediate; it’s complete, and it’s unquestioning. Obedience—that’s something that’s hard to learn; isn’t it? Doing exactly what God says, when He says to do, with a right heart attitude.

In Matthew chapter 8, a man came to Jesus and asked for help. He said to Jesus something that has to do with the matter of servanthood and obedience. He said, “I’m a man under authority, and I have soldiers who are under me. I have a boss, and I am a boss. I say to one of my soldiers, ‘Go,’ and he goes. And I say to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes. And I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does this” (vv. 8–9 paraphrased).

He’s describing servanthood. He’s describing the obedient heart of a servant—no arguing, no back talking, no delaying, no dragging his heels. He just does it. He’s obedient.

Then a doulos is trustworthy. He’s faithful. We read in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 that it’s required of a servant, required of a doulos, that he be trustworthy. If you think of somebody as being trustworthy, what does that mean?

They’re dependable; you can count on them. If they say they’ll do something, they’ll do it. They keep their word. They keep their promises. They’re worthy to be believed. That’s the greatest description that can be given of a doulos or a servant. He’s trustworthy; he’s faithful.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4 that Timothy is faithful in the Lord (v. 17). That's an A+. That's a good doulos. In Colossians 1 Paul says of Epiphras that he was a faithful servant of Christ (v. 7). And in Colossians 4 he says of Tychicus he was a faithful servant and fellow bondservant in the Lord (v. 7). He’s a faithful servant. He’s a faithful bondservant in the Lord. He’s trustworthy; he’s dependable. You can count on him.

A good doulos will go the extra mile. He won’t just do what’s expected of him. Some of us have this attitude sometimes, “I’ll go this far but no further.” He’s willing to do even more than he’s asked to do. He’s willing to go the extra mile.

A good doulos serves with no expectation of recognition or praise or gratitude. He’s not looking to be paid. He’s not looking to be repaid for his efforts. He’s just wanting to fulfill what it is that he’s supposed to do. Just do the job. That’s a good doulos.

A good doulos will serve in the little things as well as the big things. He’ll be faithful not just in the big jobs when everyone’s looking and everyone’s paying attention, but he’ll be faithful in the little jobs, the menial jobs. He doesn’t limit his service to big assignments. “I like that assignment, but someone else can do that menial one. That’s beneath me. I’m too educated for that. I’m overqualified for that job.” There’s no job that a doulos is too good to do, because if your master wants it done, then you’re fulfilling your calling as a doulos when you do it.

A doulos is willing to make sacrifices. He’s willing to suffer in order to serve. All that matters is that he serves his master. And—here’s something that challenges me very often in my own service for the Lord—a good doulos of Jesus Christ considers it a privilege to serve. He sees service as an opportunity, not an obligation. “Oh, I guess I’ve got to go do this today. I don’t really want to. It’s hard. I don’t know how I’m going to get through it.”

I love those verses in the Old Testament, Psalm 100 for example, that talk about serving the Lord. How? With gladness. You know, it’s one thing to serve; it’s another thing to serve with gladness. To say, “Lord, it is a privilege. It is an honor. It is a blessing to be able to do this for You.”

A good doulos seeks to please God and to gain His approval. He’s not living for the approval of others. We do so many things in order for others to think well of us. The apostle Paul said in the book of Galatians chapter 1, “Am I now seeking the approval of man or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a [doulos] of Christ" (v. 10).

You’ve got to decide in life who you’re going to please, whose approval you’re going to seek, who you’re going to live for, whose smile you’re going to look for. Are you going to care most about your friends being pleased with you, about impressing the crowd, about impressing people? Or are you going to care the most about pleasing your master? A good doulos lives for the approval, the “well-done,” the smile of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As I’ve been thinking about this matter of being a doulos, I came to a passage last night that just captured my attention. It’s in the gospel of Luke, chapter 12. Let me ask you to turn there for just these closing moments—Luke chapter 12. We won’t have time to really dig into this passage, but let me just show you what Jesus had to say here about a couple of other qualities of a good doulos, a good servant.

Luke 12:35, Jesus said,

Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast so that they might open the door when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants [those bondservants], whom the master finds awake when he comes (vv. 35–37).

He’s painting a picture here. There’s a big, huge house. The man has a lot of servants, and a man’s going out to a wedding feast. But he tells his servants, “I’m coming back, and when I come back I want things ready. I want the lamps burning. I want the lights turned on. I want things taken care of. I want things cleaned up. I want things ready to go. And let’s have a meal when I get back. I want the meal ready.”

He wants the house to be functioning and the servants to be doing their job while he’s gone. He tells them, “I’m coming back, and when I do I want to find things going like they’re supposed to go at this house. I want to find the servants doing their job. I want to find you guys working.” Jesus says that the servants who are awake when their master comes back, they will be blessed.

You imagine this master comes home and all the servants have gone to sleep. There’s nobody there to greet him at the door. The food’s not prepared for his meal. The house is falling apart, and burglars have gotten into the house, and people have stolen stuff out of the house. Who knows what all is going on in that house because the people who were left in charge fell asleep on the job, or they got bored, or they started doing something else, or they left and said, “Somebody else can take care of this.” They decided not to be diligent and fervent in their jobs.

He goes on to say in verse 38, “If he comes [that is that the master comes], in the second watch, or in the third [that’s in the middle of the night], and he finds them awake, blessed are those servants!” They have to stay alert. Some of your Bibles say “watchful.” He finds them watching. They’re awake. They’re staying with the job, and they are blessed if they have done that.

Then he says in verse 40, “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at a hour you do not expect.” Our master has gone off for a while. He’s in heaven. He’s preparing a place for us. He’s preparing for that wedding feast that we’ll enjoy with him someday, but he’s coming back.

Jesus said, “You better be awake when He comes back. If you’re a faithful servant, you’ll still be on the job. You won’t be sleeping on the job. You won’t be AWOL. You won’t have run off and be on vacation. You’ll be awake doing what you’re supposed to be doing when your master comes back.”

Then look at verse 42. “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them his portion of food at the proper time?” He said here’s a man who’s risen to a place of management in his master’s household. He’s done a good job, so his master gives him a promotion and he says, “You’re in charge. Make sure people are fed. Make sure people are taken care of. Make sure the house functions smoothly. Make sure things are operating the way they’re supposed to.”

Then verse 43, “Blessed is that servant.” There’s a second blessing given to a servant. “Blessed is that doulos whom his master will find so doing when he comes.” Doing what? Doing what his master told him to do, doing his job, fulfilling his responsibility. “Truly I say to you he will set him over all his possessions” (v. 44).

So if the master comes back and the servant’s playing computer games, or he’s shirking his responsibility, or he says, “My master told me to get that garage cleaned out, but whoever looks at the garage? That’s not so important. I’ll let that go or let somebody else do that.”

The master comes back and the jobs haven’t been done. The servants are goofing off. They’re not doing their responsibilities. Do you think he’s going to give them a raise? You think he’s going to give them a promotion? No way. Jesus said, “If you want to be blessed, make sure you’re a faithful servant.”

What does a faithful servant do? Two things. Number one, he stays awake. He stays on the job. And number two, he does what he’s told to do. He does the tasks that he’s been given.

One day, we don’t know when . . . It could be today; it could be tomorrow. It could be next week; it could be thirty years from now. We don’t know. It could be the middle of the night. It could be the middle of the day. It could be when you’re young. It could be when you’re old. Our master is coming back. We don’t know when He’s coming back, and that’s why we need to live prepared.

If you want to be blessed in heaven, if you want to be blessed for all of eternity, if you want to be blessed with more responsibility in God’s kingdom, then you’ve got to stay awake. You’ve got to stay alert. Make sure that when Jesus comes He finds you doing what He’s called you to do.

I’ve been thinking about that over the past several hours—last night and this morning—just what has my Master called me to do? What tasks has He given me to do at this season of my life? Now, what God’s called you to do in this season may be very different than what He’s called me to do.

Some of you He’s called you to be a mom, to be taking care of your home, to be taking care of little children. Some of you are grandmoms, and there’s a season of life when you’re ministering to your grandchildren. We have a lady here who’s been married fifty-four years here in a season of life where you and your husband are ministering to each other; you’re ministering to your husband’s needs. You have certain responsibilities.

We have some fourteen and fifteen and sixteen-year-old gals here. Your season of life is to be going to school and being a daughter in your home, being a sister. Maybe making your bed is your job right now. No job is too menial if it’s the job God has given you.

I’m thinking, “What has God given me to do?” He’s called me to teach His Word. That means I have to study and prepare. And I’m thinking, What if Jesus came back and I’m doing something other than what He called me to do? Is He going to honor me for that? Am I going to be blessed if I wasn’t doing what He called me to do? If I wasn’t being a faithful student of His Word, faithfully teaching the Word, faithfully providing leadership in our ministry? If Jesus comes back and you gals who are students, you’re sloughing off at school, mouthing off at your parents. Is God going to honor you for that?

If I’m not doing what He called me to do, if you’re not doing what He called you to do, you’re not going to be blessed. I want to be a faithful servant. I want to be blessed. I want Him to be able to entrust me with more responsibility. That means I don’t just look to what is my job down the road, but what is my calling or my task right now. What has He called me to do?

Jesus said, “Blessed is the man who when his master comes back finds him awake and watching for his master’s return and he finds him doing what He’s given him to do.” I want to be that kind of doulos, and I think you do, too.

Would you just take a moment and think about what it is that God has called you to do in this season of life in your home, in your school, in your workplace? It may not be that the tasks that you would have chosen for yourself. I know God’s called me to do some things that aren’t exactly my favorite thing to do, and there are some tasks that seem kind of menial and some that don’t seem all that important, some that seem hard.

But if God’s called you to do it, He’ll give you strength. He’ll give you grace. You will fulfill your purpose in life if you do what God has called you to do. If you want to be a faithful servant and if your master came back today or this week or this season of your life, would He find you watching for His return and would He find you faithfully doing that which He has called you to do?

Lord, we want to be good servants. We want to be faithful servants. Help us to know what it is that you’ve called us to do and then to serve you with all our hearts heartily as serving the Lord knowing that from You we will receive the reward when we have fulfilled that which You’ve called us to do. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has given you and me some important things to think about. What has your master asked you to do today? Are you doing it? Are you surrendering to His will?

This is a huge issue, and I hope you’ll explore the topic of surrender deeper. We’d like to send you Nancy’s book, Surrender: The Heart God Controls.

This book will help you see what it means to surrender your will to the Lord. She’ll show you the joys of being a bondslave of Jesus and help you overcome obstacles to true surrender.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll show our thanks by sending you Surrender.  We’ll send one copy of the book per household for your donation of any amount.

Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit

People are watching how you serve. It’s a powerful way to give people a picture of Christ. Nancy will explain more, tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.