What Real Success Looks Like

The latest statistics on prescription drugs are proof that we truly live in a time where more and more people are dealing with massive amounts of discouragement, depression and despondency. This is happening during a time in which personal and corporate success is being heralded as the answer for everything.  While many have found solace through, money, their career, pastoral counseling or from a prescription bottle, others are still desperate for someone to step forward with words of encouragement.

 

Real success is not about wealth or fame. The reason? Success is fleeting. One can be successful today, without being effective tomorrow. For our lives to count in the long run, we must realize that it is what we do for others that truly counts. Sharing a kind word, a note of appreciation or a text stating our love is positive for both giver and receiver. Every one of us can be about the ministry of encouraging others.

 

Yes, there are people who possess the motivational gift of encouragement. And yes, they tend to get very excited when they are able to encourage another person. But, even if we don’t see ourselves as “gifted” to encourage others. We all must be concerned about the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health of others (than we are about ourselves).

 

As Christians, we should encourage the lost to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But we should not stop there. We should ask the Holy Spirit to stir our hearts and give us opportunities to love, encourage and console. How can we effectively do this? By caring about others. Let’s look at the example Jesus gave us.

 

Jesus cared about and saw the potential in every person He met. Whether well or ill, young or old, Jesus noticed, took time to talk and then encourage everyone around Him. One day when Jesus was teaching the adults, there were some children who were brought to be blessed by Him. His disciples, not wanting Jesus to be bothered, tried to turn away the children. The words Jesus spoke concerning their actions were not only directed toward His disciples, but for us as well. Matthew 19:13-14 says, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

 

The Gospels are filled with a great number of stories of Jesus blessing and encouraging adults and children. In them Jesus encouraged the hurting, discouraged and desperate people. Examples include Bartimaeus (a blind beggar who He healed), Zacchaeus (a well known tax collector with whom He had lunch with), Jairus (the leader of a local synagogue whose daughter had died, but Jesus raised her from the dead) and an unclean, outcast woman with a terrible blood condition who dared to transgress the law to be near Jesus. This unnamed woman touched the bottom edge of Jesus’ robe hoping to find some relief. While others ignored or dismissed her, Jesus stopped, turned to talk and then encouraged her (Matthew 9:20-22).

 

Barnabas is another example of a person who encouraged others. While Barnabas understood his talents, abilities, and especially, his limitations, he chose to stay positive by encouraging others. In fact, he did a very unusual thing. He went to Tarsus to look for man called “Saul of Tarsus.”  This religious zealot was prosecuting Christians for their faith. No one was interested in being a friend to him. No one, that is, but Barnabas. Barnabas encouraged, helped and became a friend to the person who would come to be known as the Apostle Paul (Acts 11:24-25).

 

The actions of Barnabas is the picture of encouragement. He was willing to accept, work with, encourage and then travel with the Apostle Paul when other leaders didn’t fully trust him or care to be near him. Even years later, when Barnabas chose to separate from Paul’s ministry, he chose to spend his time pouring into a young man named John Mark (who had abandoned Paul and Barnabas while on an earlier mission trip). No doubt Barnabas saw that John Mark needed encouraging. It is also evident that Barnabas could look beyond the faults of people and see their needs as well as what they “could be.”

 

Will you seek to encourage, bless and console the people around you today? Will you give positive reinforcement and remind others that God will supply all of their need according to His riches in glory? In doing so you will be a blessing. You will sow seeds to your own harvest of blessing.  For whatever we sow, we reap. If we give encouragement, encouragement will be given to us when we are in need of it.

 

I encourage you today with the words from 1 Peter 5:7. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” Yes, the Lord really cares. He really cares about you!

 

Because our Lord cares for us, let us also care about others and encourage them today!

 

Be Encouraged!

 

Robert

The Gift of Serving Others

 

serving

A person with the motivational Gift of Serving Others has been given by the Holy Spirit the God given desire, ability and power to give practical assistance to the members of Christ’s body specifically and to all people generally. This type of practical assistance can be seen in the story found in Exodus 17:10-13 which says, “So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up– one on one side, one on the other– so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

 

 

 

Aaron and Hur both demonstrated the gift of service when they held up the hands of Moses. The story of their service calls us to take a deeper dive into their motivation. When we look at the word Paul used to describe this gift he used the Greek word diakonos.

 

 

 

The word diakonos directly speaks to someone who executes the commands of another. There are times, like in the Exodus 17 story, when the act of service is neither required, asked for or suggested. This motivational gift moves people to serve. Without thinking about it these wonderfully gifted people see themselves as being a servant, attendant, deacon or minister.

 

 

 

A person motivated by grace to serve others is determined to demonstrate the love and grace of God by meeting practical needs. Sadly, many of these people feel that they are lacking spiritually because of where their attention is drawn to. But the opposite is true. Jesus said that the best thing testimony we can share is revealed in serving others.

 

 

 

Many people who have the motivational gift of serving enjoy doing for others and seeing projects (that benefit others) all the way to the end. To such a person, serving others means serving God. These folks are the example of the statement of Dr. Billy Graham who said, “The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service.”

 

 

 

The Christian life is not limited to the vertical dimension of praise, prayer and interaction with the Holy Spirit. It’s not only about lifting your hands up toward heaven. The Christian life (and the Gift of Serving Others) must never stop stretching hands out for the purpose of lifting others up. Being a Christian is not about knowing the words of the Bible but never following what it says. Those with the gift of service want all of us to be doers of the Word. In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren said this about the gift of serving. He said, “the last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice. What they need are serving experiences in which they can exercise their spiritual muscles.”

 

 

 

History tells us that in every age there comes a time when God’s people step forward to meet the needs of the hour. In such a moment, it is imperative that those with the Gift of Serving Others step forward from the crowd. Serving others gives everyone an opportunity to better mankind. The opportunity may be larger than your talents or abilities. It may stretch you beyond anything you have walked through before. Because even though the solution may appear as large as the world, the answer begins with one person serving and that person is you!

 

 

 

If you have the Gift of Serving Others I encourage you to try and make these wise words from The Leader of the Future by C. William Pollard yours. Pollard said, “A servant leader’s results will be measured beyond the workplace, and the story will be told in the changed lives of others. There is no scarcity of feet to wash. The towels and water are available. The limitation is our ability to get on our hands and knees and be prepared to do what we ask others to do.”

 

Five Levels of Relationship

Susan and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary tomorrow. She has been and continues to be the love of my life. Together we have traveled the globe telling the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. A close friend asked what were some of the things I have learned over the forty years. While there are several things, one of the most important things I have learned is that all of our relationships are on one of five different levels. The highest form of relationship should be our intimate and spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Paul the Apostle wrote to the Church at Rome, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. (adoption) And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:13-18

There are basically five levels of relationship in our lives. While we expect to be on certain levels with certain people, each of us determine the level we are on based on our commitment to the relationship. All relationships are on the following levels:

LEVEL ONE: Acquaintance.

This level does not require deep intimacy at all. A relationship on this level is one where you are not sharing your problems or personal stories. People who are on this level with you don’t know your likes and dislikes. Your communication style is surface. When you speak to an acquaintance, communication is short and usually about the mundane everyday happenings concerning life.

LEVEL TWO: Casual.

People who are on this level with you are a short step above being a mere acquaintance to you. We generally have casual relationships with the people we attend classes at college with, or sit near at weekend church services or see them once a week at the coffee shop or at work.

There may even be meaningful moments from time to time with such an individual. These relationships have their use and context, but they are not usually close, nor intimate. In such relationships people don’t hang out often and rarely become close friends.

LEVEL THREE: Close.

Close relationships are more personal and deeper especially when it comes to commitment. Most work related or extended family relationships no longer the close relationships they once did. Nor, do they usually require a close commitment.

In most ways, many people see themselves as “close” if they are friends on Facebook or Twitter. But close relationships should be more than being social media friends. Close relationships should be bonding, mutual and serious. Why?  They require being in proximity to one another, both geographically and emotionally.

LEVEL FOUR: Committed.

Committed relationships are a step beyond close. They create a certain level of vulnerability. When people are in a committed relationship they do not exploit or expose the weaknesses or frailties of those they are committed to. Sadly, modern thinking has destroyed many a committed relationship. This is due to the exposing of personal or private details to others.

The people in a committed relationship should have the expectation that each party will keep any information—learned because of the relationship—in confidence (even if the relationship ends).  This level of relationship requires trust. Why? Because when people are in a committed relationship they must trust one another. That trust cannot be violated because trust is the foundation of the commitment and love is the motivation.

Even if one person feels that their trust has been violated by the other, neither person exposes or exploits the other. When people “tell” what they have learned in previous committed relationships they hinder the development of future relationships. Why? Because if you will tell what you know about someone else, you will tell what you come to know in your present and future relationships.

LEVEL FIVE: Intimate and Spiritual.

The highest form of relationship is our spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is beyond close or committed. He lives within us. Therefore, this relationship is intimate. In other words, it is of the deepest nature. It requires consistent and close contact, warmth and a total commitment.

1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” The Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have chosen to dwell within us by the Spirit. For Jesus said in John 14:23, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

As believers, we have received the Spirit of Adoption whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15) Abba is an intimate Aramaic term for Pops, Dad or Daddy. The Spirit of Adoption is the Holy Spirit Who has proceeded from the Heavenly Father into us because of the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 15:26 KJV says, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing in this blog how the development of a consistent, close, warm and deep spiritual relationship brings blessing to the first four relationship levels and our relationship with God. I encourage you to read the Scriptures in Romans 8 and Galatians 3 and 4. Ask the Father to give you a spirit of insight and understanding so you can know Him (The Father and the Lord Jesus Christ) better and be able to better all of the relationships in your life.

Robert