(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Day 34 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comments section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
I have learned that before your outer life can show a change, your inner life, or thoughts must change. It is really eye-opening to know that although I may work very hard at how I am perceived by others, what matters most to God is what is in my heart. Chapter 34 tackles this by showing us how real servants think.
I'm going to borrow this writing style from Nicole and list the points from this chapter that jumped out at me before I go any further:
Service starts in your mind.
Attitudes count more than achievements.
Real servants don't try to use God for their purposes. They let God use them for His purposes.
Your service for Christ is never wasted regardless of what others say.
Only secure people can serve.
The closer you get to Jesus, the less you need to promote yourself.
The title of being a servant doesn't really sound very appealing in wordly terms. However, in the kingdom of heaven, there is no greater honor. I believe that truly becoming a servant of God in our thoughts and lives is a lifelong process. It matters to God that we continue, step by step in this process and continue to make progress.
Just as Joseph was entrusted as a steward when he was a prisoner in Egypt, we too are entrusted with great opportunities for servanthood. Joseph's good attitude and service earned him promotion after promotion, until he was eventually in control of Egypt under Pharoah. We may feel incredibly lowly as we deal with the day to day challenges, many which are upsetting and unpleasant. However, if we do our work with love for God and with a desire to use our lives to please Him, our good attitude and faithful service will help us to be promoted, both in this life and the next. As Rick Warren pointed out in this chapter, this promotion will likely not be accompanied by a glorious title or award. Every time our child makes a hard-earned and precious gain, there is promotion. Every time we are able to bear a challenge with grace, we are promoted and ready to move to a new level in our relationship with God.
The thing about God is that He sees and knows everything. He knows if we are doing something to look good or if our heart is in the right place. That is why what is in our hearts matters more than what others see on the outside. I really liked the statement "Only secure people can serve" (p. 269) Competitiveness, criticizm and petty comparisons cannot touch us when we know who we are in Christ. Rick Warren really explains this well by saying, "Because they remember they are loved and accepted by grace, servants don't have to prove their worth. They willingly accept jobs that insecure people would consider 'beneath' them". (p. 269) We are then freed from the expectations of others as we do our work. When we realize that we are working for God, and already have our value and acceptance from Him-the pressure comes off and we are free to truly shine.
Obstacles to thinking like a servant are also important to recognize. As the author points out, how we handle and perceive money is a key factor to how well we can serve. Jesus spent a great deal of his ministry talking about money, and how it can become an idol that replaces God. In fact, Rick Warren makes the point of saying that it is money that sidetracks people from serving God more than anything else. There is a great statement on page 267 that sums this up beautifully, "When Jesus is your Master, money serves you, but if money is your master, you become its slave" (Rick Warren) We need to check our motives, be honest and trustworthy with money, as well as use it to build God's church and help others.
Just as how we serve matters when no one can see or when circumstances are trying, it matters what kind of attitude we have when we are mistreated. People often expect the worst from others and it is a powerful witness when a person can be positive, kind and loving after being mistreated. This doesn't mean being a doormat, it means not allowing that person to take the joy of serving God from you or your personal peace. That to me is real power. It is also impossible to do apart from God.
Bible verses from Day 34:
Whatever you do, work at it with your all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. -Colossians 3: 23-24
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. -Philippians 2: 5-7
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My father will honor the one who serves me. -John 12:26