Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Service and the Kingdom of God

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Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss doesn’t necessarily want people to remember her as a speaker and an author.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know what I want them to be able to remember? She was a humble lover and servant. She got her hands dirty. She got into my life. She ministered to my practical needs. She loved me. She gave. She was selfless. She was a servant.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, June 3, 2015.

Do you ever get to the end of the day and say, “I don’t feel like I accomplished anything? All I did was run errands and answer other people’s questions.”

Well, days like that can be frustrating unless you realize that God might be calling you to run errands and answer questions. Maybe you can do small tasks like this for His glory. Here’s Nancy to tell us more, continuing in the series, "Seriving Like the Savior."

Nancy: I was in Dallas last weekend and had the opportunity to meet some friends at a restaurant for dinner. The food was really good. I had a really good steak and some of the best asparagus (if you like asparagus). But I'll tell you what was really memorable about that restaurant. The service was incredible.

There was a young man named Jeremy who was our waiter. He just made serving seem like the greatest job. He made it seem like it was a privilege to serve us. In fact, he would say, "It's my pleasure." When we would thank him for something, he was asking, "Is there something I can do for you?"

I had forgotten to take Kleenex. I said, "Do you think you could find me some Kleenex?"

He said, "No problem." He was back with the Kleenex.

I had another friend at the table who was wanting to know what the score was on a football game that was being played in another room. Jeremy would come back every once in a while and tell what the score was on the football game. I mean, that's service at a restaurant!

His attitude was that of a servant. He was glad to serve. He was cheerful. He didn't make us feel like we were imposing on him by being there or that he wished he could be doing something else, that he begrudged serving us.

He was helpful. He said repeatedly, "If you have any questions or need anything, let me know." He was focused on the customers. It made it a really pleasant evening to have good service.

You know as well as I do, that the way people serve or don’t serve can make or break a customer’s day. You’ve been at some places where you probably had somebody who’s just got an attitude.

In fact, one of my staff will often say when we see somebody like that, “I don’t think she likes her job.” Someone serving with an attitude of, “I wish I wasn’t here; I wish I didn’t have to do this; I wish you weren’t here.” Sometimes they can make you feel that way, and what it does is make you feel like you never want to do business there again. Even if you like the product, if the service stinks, you don't really want to go back to that establishment, whether it’s a restaurant or a store or a bank or an airline.

I can remember times when I have been in airports with my flights getting messed up or cancelled or something going wrong. What makes all the difference in the world, no matter how that experience turns out, is the attitude of the person behind the counter.

If the person would just say, “I’m really sorry that you’re going through this; let me see if I can help you.” Then you want to work with them, and you will put up with a whole lot. But if they act like they don’t care, if they act like you’re a bother to them, then you’re going to be wanting to write a letter to the airline saying, “How come you got me into this mess.”

It’s just amazing how service, whether it’s good or bad, can affect our whole attitude about the whole company. Well, isn’t it true that the way we serve others affects people’s attitude about the company we work for? What’s the company we work for? It’s the kingdom of God.

People get their opinions of Jesus Christ and His kingdom by the way that we serve—the attitude, the quality of the service we offer. You hear talk today about how rare it is to get good service. You just can’t get good service. But everybody wants it. No one wants to give it, but people want to have it.

So when somebody actually does deliver good service, excellent service, it’s really popular. In many of the cases today, that’s what makes some of the top notch businesses.

We’ve talked over the past few days about a Greek word, the word doulos, that in many Bibles is translated bondservant or servant. It’s a slave of Jesus Christ, a permanent bondservant of Jesus Christ. Now, to continue our little Greek lesson here in the series, I want to give you another word that is often translated servant in the New Testament.

It’s the Greek word diakonos (d-i-a-k-o-n-o-s). Does that word remind you of another word you know? The word deacon. That is the word from which we get our word deacon. In some of your translations that word diakonos is translated servant. Sometimes it’s translated minister, a minister or a servant.

We’re not sure exactly where that word comes from. We think it may be from a word diakones, which means laboring in the dust or running through dust. It’s kind of a lowly word. It’s a domestic servant. It’s not a slave like the doulos is. The emphasis is not on the relationship of subjection to your master, that’s the word doulos.

But the emphasis in diakonos is on the service that you are rendering, the task that you are performing for someone else. So the deacons in the church are helpers. They are servants of the Lord and servants of the people in the church. They minister. They serve. They care for the people of God. The idea behind diakonos is the idea of running errands. It’s an errand boy or a waiter, somebody who waits on tables, somebody who carries out menial tasks for a bigger purpose.

It’s when one’s attention is focused on meeting the needs of others, especially brothers and sisters in the family of God.

The word doulos most often refers to our serving relationship with God. We are the doulos of God. We serve Him. Now, it can be used of serving others, but generally it speaks of our relationship with God.

The word diakonos more often speaks of how we serve others. We do things to minister to the needs of others. We can diakonos others because we are first a doulos of God.

When you’re a servant of God and God says, “I want you to go minister to the needs of that child or that widow or that single person or that person in prison,” you serve others because you are a servant of God, and He has given you that direction.

By the way, the word diakonos, I think this is really interesting . . . In the New Testament, women have a special role as servants when this word is used, diakonos.

Now, it’s not just women who would do this, but it’s interesting that whenever service is spoken of in the New Testament as being given to Jesus, someone who served Jesus, diakonos; they ministered to His needs. It’s always either angels or women who are rendering that service to Him.

You read about it a number of times in the wilderness temptation, it says, “Angels came and ministered unto Jesus” (Matt. 5:11 NKJV). Diakonos.

Peter’s mother-in-law in Luke chapter 4, when Jesus came in and healed her (she was sick and he healed her), it says, “She rose and ministered unto them” (v. 3 KJV). She served them.

In Luke chapter 8 it talks about women who followed with Jesus along with the disciples, and these women ministered to Jesus out of their substance.

Diakonos—they served him. They provided. I don’t know if they were making meals or they were buying groceries, but out of their resources, they served the Lord Jesus.

Who’s the woman famous in the Scriptures for serving Jesus? Martha. She had Jesus and the disciples into her home; she showed hospitality. She served Jesus. Now she got into trouble because of the way she did it, and she did it with an attitude. But she served Jesus.

Isn’t it amazing that when services is being spoken of, when it’s being given to Jesus, it’s the women or angels.

I think that says to me that it’s a high and holy calling to do even menial tasks of service if it’s for Jesus’ sake. We as women have a special calling to serve.

Now, that doesn’t mean that men aren’t supposed to serve also, but there’s a special sense in which we as women have a privilege to serve in our homes, in the workplace, in our relationships, to roll up our sleeves and do practical acts of service. When we do them for someone else in the family of God, it is as if we’re doing it for Jesus.

Gals, when you serve your parents in your home, you’re serving Jesus. Moms, when you serve your husband, when you’re serving your children, when you’re doing laundry, when you’re making meals, you’re not only providing diakonos service for your family, but you are serving Jesus.

That makes it a high and holy calling. That means there are no menial tasks. To have a servant’s heart toward others, diakonos, is an expression of two basic heart attitudes: first, love; second, humility.

Love and humility. If you love somebody and if you have a humble heart, then it will not be a problem to serve them. Service, ministry, diakonos, flows out of love and humility.

In Philippians chapter 2, the apostle Paul talks about this humble attitude, and he says that “we are to esteem others as better than ourselves” (v. 3 NKJV). We’re to esteem others as better than ourselves.

He says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind [that’s a humble of heart attitude, in humility], let each esteem others better than himself” (v. 4). Consider others better than yourself.

You won't want to serve someone if you think you are better than they are. But if you esteem that person as better than yourself, then you say, "It’s a privilege."

If the First Lady of the United States called and said, “I’d like you to work for me.” Would I consider that a put down? I’d say, “Wow, what a privilege that would be!”

It’s a privilege to serve when you esteem someone as better than yourself. That’s why in Romans 12, Paul says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (v. 10 NIV). Service flows out of a heart of love and humility, honoring others above ourselves.

Now, when you have a servant’s heart toward others, it means that you will always be looking around to see what their needs are; always trying to discern the needs of others and seeing what you can do to meet those needs.

A servant-hearted person is an observant person. The problem is most of us get so caught up in our own little world, we’re always conscious of what our needs are, what we need.

But the servant-hearted person looks around and sees that person has a need, that person needs encouragement, that person needs help—that mom’s got three little kids. How in the world does she manage by herself? I think I’ll go and offer to babysit so she and her husband can have a date night.

Always looking around to see what are the needs of others. What are the needs in our homes? What are the needs that our friends have? What are the needs of the people in our church, and what can I do to meet those needs?

That means if you have a servant’s heart, you’re sensitive. You’re alert; you’re observant; you’re responsive. You’re quick to see a need and then move to meet it. It means you take initiative. You’re always looking for ways to give, to bless, to serve others. It means you’re putting other's needs ahead of your own.

In fact, it means you serve others in the way you would want to be served yourself. We’re so stinking selfish so much of the time. We know what we want done for us. If you have a servant’s heart, you’re going to give to others the kind of service that you would want for yourself.

Having a servant’s heart is more than doing a few good things for people. It does involve that, but more than that, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a heart attitude of giving ourselves to God by giving ourselves to others.

If you really have a servant’s heart, you’ll be willing to serve people who can’t pay you back, people who can’t reciprocate, the least of these.

A friend was telling me recently about someone in her church who has adopted a number of special needs children. One of those children is severely, physically handicapped and will never be able to care for himself.

Those parents knew that when they adopted that child. They knew that they would spend years and years and years serving that child. That child, who will not be able to thank them, will not be able to reward them. Those parents have a servant’s heart.

They’re caring for the least of these; those who cannot reciprocate. A person who has a servant’s heart, diakonos, is a giver rather than a taker. Selfless rather than selfish. Humble rather than proud. Others-centered versus self-centered.

As I was preparing for this series, I came across a passage that has really spoken to my own heart about this whole matter of serving. In fact, let me ask you to turn there just for these last few moments. First Peter chapter 4, verses 10 and 11.

God really used this passage in my heart over this past weekend. Someone on our staff communicated with me that they needed someone to go speak in Dallas this past weekend. They knew we had these recordings coming up and that I had a lot going on, but there was a need for someone to go help out in our ministry. I was asking the Lord, “Do you want me to be available to go do this?” We decided to pray about it overnight and see what direction the Lord would give. When I woke up the next morning, I had this passage on my heart.

God used this Scripture while I was preparing to speak on servanthood to prompt my heart, “You need to be available to take that day-and-a-half and go and serve in this way.” I thought, How will I do this with all we have coming up in a big recording week? Here’s what the Scripture had to say.

First Peter chapter 4, verses 10 and 11, “As each has received a gift.” That word, gift, is the word charisma. It’s a gift of grace. God has given each of us some gift of grace. And what are we supposed to do with those gifts? “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.”

You know what that word serve is there? It comes from the word diakonos. It’s a related word: Use it to deacon. Use it to serve. Use it to minister to one another.

God has given us spiritual gifts, and we’re supposed to use those to serve others, “as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” That word grace is the word charis. It’s the word related to charisma, gift and grace, very similar words.

Whoever speaks [If that’s your gift that God has given you, use your gift of speaking to serve others] as one who speaks oracles of God. Whoever serves [If your gift is hands on, practical acts of service, then use it to serve others] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies (v. 11).

We serve because God has given us a gift, and we’re called to use it to serve others. God not only gives us the gift but gives us the strength to use that gift in serving others.

And what’s the purpose? “In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belongs glory and dominion forever and forever” (v. 11).

Someone asked me the other day, “What’s your definition of serving?” I was working on this series, and I had to kind of stumble around I’m not really sure what my definition is, but I think I came up with one based on this passage.

Serving, in the sense of biblical servanthood, is faithfully using whatever gifts God has given me by His grace. Faithfully using whatever gifts God has given me. Using them, not squandering them, not wasting them, not ignoring them, not hoping someone else will use those gifts; but using whatever gifts God has given me for the benefit of others, to serve others.

How do I do it? By His strength, not my own; and for His glory, not my glory. Faithfully using whatever gifts God has given me.

It’s a gift of grace God has given me, and I do it for the benefit of others, and I do it with the strength that God gives me. I do it for God’s glory, not my own.

As I meditated on that passage, I thought, “God has given me a gift to minister His Word; I need to get to Dallas. How am I going to do it in this busy week? I’ll do it with the strength that God supplies. Will I get anything out of this? It doesn’t really matter because it’s not for my glory, it’s for God’s glory.”

Some of you know the name Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators. That was one of the largest Christian organizations in the world. Dawson Trotman has now been with the Lord many years, but the story is told of years ago when he was visiting Taiwan on one of his overseas trips. During that visit he hiked with a Taiwanese pastor back into one of the mountain villages to meet with some of the national Christians.

As they hiked the roads, the trails were wet and their shoes got really muddy. Later after the trip someone asked this Taiwanese pastor what he remembered most about Dawson Trotman. This was this great American leader of this Christian organization, and without hesitation that national pastor said, “The thing I remember most about Dawson Trotman is that he cleaned my shoes.”

He cleaned my shoes. Imagine when that humble national pastor woke up the next morning and realized that this big leader from America had gotten up before him and washed the mud off his shoes from their hike.

That makes me ask, “What will people remember most about me?” Will they remember that I could multi-task? That I could do all kinds of tasks and jobs? Will they remember that I was a speaker? Will they remember that I was an author? Will they remember that I was a leader of Revive Our Hearts? Will they remember that I had a lot of talents or abilities or got a lot of things done?

You know what I want them to be able to remember? She was a humble lover and servant. She cleaned my shoes. She got her hands dirty. She got into my life. She ministered to my practical needs. She loved me. She gave. She served. She was selfless. She was a servant.

What will people remember about you? Will they remember that you were a servant? What will your folks remember, gals, when you go off to college? Will they remember that you served? Will they miss you because you were such a servant in your home?

What will people remember about you, moms, grandmoms? That you were a servant?

"Let every person use the gift that God has given him to serve others as good stewards as God’s grace. Whoever serves, do it by the strength that God supplies, that in everything, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ."

Thank you, Lord, for demonstrating to us what it means to be a servant, to humble yourself. I pray that You’ll give us the heart of a servant, to look around and see what are the needs that need to be met and how you have given us gifts to be used to minister to the practical needs of others.

Make us a servant Lord. Give us a servant’s heart. May our homes and our workplaces and our school environments, may it all be different after we leave this session today because we go back into those places with a heart of a servant and to give and give and give for Jesus’ sake, amen.

Leslie: I don’t know where today’s program finds you, but I’ll bet a lot of you are listening while you’re serving in the ways Nancy Leigh DeMoss just described. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been giving us perspective on some of those thankless tasks.

We’re able to bring you this kind of practical Bible teaching for women thanks to those who support Revive Our Hearts. The gifts from listeners allow us to continue bringing the program to you each weekday.

When you support the ministry during this series, we’ll say "thanks" by sending you the book Surrender: The Heart God Controls.

Nancy wrote this book to help you think through important questions about your will. Are you saying, “Yes, Lord” in every decision? Every area of life? This book will help you learn to submit to God’s plan and show you why that’s ultimately the most joyful way to live.

Ask for Nancy’s book, Surrender, when you call with your gift of any size. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or donate at We’ll send one copy of Surrender per household for your donation during this series. If you’re looking for recognition, you probably don’t have a servant’s heart. Nancy knows about this from experience. She’ll share about it tomorrow.

Nancy: When I was in high school, I was the accompanist. I was a pianist, and I accompanied a lot of singers and choirs and that sort of thing. I loved doing that. That was the gift God had given me, and I used it to serve others. But I didn’t have a servant’s heart.

When we would have choir concerts or something like that and they would forget to recognize the accompanist, I would get my feelings hurt. I was miffed. I was hurt. I wanted people to know who was doing this great job of accompanying this choir. That’s not a servant’s heart.

Leslie: We'll hear more about that 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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