Hitland Christian Ministries

Servant Leadership

By: Bonnie Brooks Bajarin

There are times when we learn from great leaders such as John Maxwell or others in corporate leadership and there are times when God wants to train us Himself. For the last few months, He has been giving me some things to work through in developing my own leadership style that I would like to share with you.

The Lord has been showing me that a leader is a servant. A good leader has the heart, mind and attitude of one who serves both the Lord and others. It is in our serving that we become disciples because discipleship is passion moved to action. As I become a better disciple, I become a better leader. Good leaders are disciples, great leaders make disciples. We not only become a disciple, we help others become one too.

To do that, God has given me three things to focus on:

I would like to talk about these three goals because I believe everything about servant leadership can be put into those three statements.

Listen to Him
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” John 10: 27

“If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways.” Ps. 81:13

“I will listen to what God the Lord will say; He promises peace to his people – the saints.” Psalm 85:8

“But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:33

“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to hear like one being taught. I have not been rebellious, I have not drawn back.” Isaiah 50:4

What one important thing did God directly speak to the disciples? “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” (Mark 9:7)

As leaders it is vital that we listen to what is on God’s heart.

When we were in Hawaii for a family reunion in August, the Lord woke me up one morning around 3:30 and began to speak to me. It lasted about thirty minutes and I soon realized that He had not woken me up to pray or talk with Him but to instruct me and I needed to both listen and remember what was being said. It was kind of like a performance review with suggestions on how to do better.

He reminded me that Jewel needs to be backed by prayer and that we had become a bit lax about it. He mentioned that the prayer covering for Jewel was not what it should be and we needed to work on it. In the past, we had asked a few ladies who are not in Jewel to pray for the ministry and some were no longer around. So reinstating that is one of my priorities right now.

His desire is that we do not run ahead with our good ideas, but carefully seek Him in everything we do so that we are in sync with what He wants.

As a result of listening to Him, my thinking is aligned to match His. In other words, as I see how God thinks I change my views and align my perspective and thinking with His values. That is what we do when we read the Word. Psalm 19 says “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul, the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart…this set of verses form the core of God’s value system. Psalm 32 says that He will lead us and guide us. We learn His principles from listening and then as we apply them to our lives, we become trained in them so that we can walk in agreement with Him.

Today hearing from God is counter culture to the society in which we live. But it used to be very important….

Come with me back in time for a few minutes to the temple for Apollo in Didyma, Turkey. This temple was not in a town, but about 15 miles from Miletus. There was a stone road going from Miletus to the temple of Apollo. It had huge carved stone lions every 100 yards and in between were small shops that sold all kinds of sacrifices, clothes, food, souvenirs, etc. It was so magnificent and big that it was the second largest temple in the world. People walked the fifteen miles to this temple and didn’t think anything of it – why? Because it was an oracle. That meant people could come to ask questions of their god and get an answer. They would bring a sacrifice and, if it was found acceptable, Apollo would then hear their question. They would approach two huge doors and wait until they would open and a priest would come out to ask them their questions. Then the door would close and they would wait – sometimes days – until the doors opened again and he would bring their answer. What the people didn’t know is that behind the doors there was a small building in which a woman (usually) sat over burning incense and herbs to inspire her. Some have said it was like sniffing glue. She would utter words and they would be taken down by the priests whom she trained and discipled and they would then bring her words back to the people. The people would take it as Apollo’s words, then go and do what was said.

Let’s think about this. First a person had to walk 15 miles to the temple. They had to bring a good enough sacrifice to be acceptable, they had to wait until they could give their question and then wait for the answer never knowing when it would come so they had to stay there. Afterwards, they could finally go back home with an answer. All that work for an answer from a false god.

Now let’s look at us. We can come to the Living God anywhere we are because He is everywhere. We don’t have to walk 15 miles. We can ask Him a question anytime because He listens to us. We can at any time read His word to find out what is on His heart and what His desires are for us. What an incredible privilege! The ability to listen to God sets Christianity apart from other religions. Then why is it so hard for us to get up early to spend time with Him or make time in our busy schedules to read the very words of our God?

There are things He will not tell us unless we listen.

Consider this, does a servant spend most of his time talking or listening? He listens… to what the Master says because he knows his life could depend on it.

The question I ask myself is do I listen to Him as if my life depends on it? Am I making sure that I am hearing from Him lest I move out with my own good ideas? I am convinced that God blesses what is of Himself and has not promised to bless my good ideas. Therefore, as a disciple and servant, I need to make sure I am following Him and that includes His instructions. My goal is to be so captivated by Him that I am held captive to Him. What makes the difference is the relationship – listening, learning and walking.

Chances are that all of us have had God speak to us sometime even if we may not have realized it at that moment. Knowing when God is communicating to you is developed over time. We talk about God being our father. Parents and children talk a lot. We talk about Jesus being our friend. Friends share things – including secrets. We talk about Jesus being our Beloved. It is a delight to have the one you love be with you and talk to you. If God is our teacher, He wants to teach us and train us. Jesus said in John 10 that “my sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” Sheep only follow the voice of the shepherd. They won’t follow any other voice. When a new shepherd comes to let the other shepherd take a rest or leave, it takes a month for the sheep to learn the new shepherd’s voice so the old shepherd can go. We need to learn how to discern God’s voice so well that we will not follow any other besides Him.

Here are some of the ways God may speak to us:

The important thing is that we need discernment so we know when He does. If you aren’t sure, then it needs to be tested in the Spirit by if it is true to the Bible, if it fits with God’s character and if it leads you closer to God. Will it make you more effective and fruitful or not? Anything from the enemy or self usually leads to indulgence of self without God’s peace or excitement.

If at any time you have trouble listening to Him, here are a few things to remember:

What are some of the things He might tell you?

  1. How much He loves you.
  2. That He is with you.
  3. That He can change, renew and transform you if you let Him.
  4. Tell you what He is teaching you.

As we listen to Him, we will align our thinking to be more like His. As we listen to Him, we will do what brings glory to God. As we listen to Him, those around us will know that as we walk with Him, they can trust us to lead them closer to Him.

When we are quiet in His presence, we can be guided by Him and taught by Him.

Learn from Him

Learning from Him means becoming trained and equipped by Him.

Jesus said in John 6:45 “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.” Every one who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to me.”

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt. 11:29 NIV)

The Lord wants more than head knowledge, he wants us to apply what we know so that it becomes a dynamic part of our daily lives. The message Jesus gave was “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28 NLT) It is a learning process for us to apply God’s truth to our lives which I call God’s Training Program. It is how we are shaped and formed to be like Him. That training can take weeks, months or years depending on how well we apply what we are learning. The goal is to go out into the world and to do that we need to be trained and equipped

How does that happen? First we come to understand God’s thinking on a subject – such as patience. That happens as we listen to Him as He renews our thinking. Then He begins to teach us about it and help us apply it to our lives by putting us in situations where we have the choice to follow what we have always done or choose to put what we have been learning into practice. Then as we begin that develop that new habit pattern, it becomes over time a way of life for us and we don’t act or react the old way anymore. So as we develop patience, our old habit (impatience trained by self) goes away and we become more like him.

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal 2:20 NLT

Let’s go back in time again to when Jesus was coming out the wilderness after being baptized and was going to call His disciples. He went back to Nazareth and spoke in the synagogue. They liked what he spoke but then he angered the people by saying that a prophet is not accepted in his own town so they threw him out. He then went to Capernaum which is on the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee. Now he could have gone to Scythopolis a very large city about 15 miles south of Nazareth. It had an arena, theatre, University, large synagogue with a school. It even had running water and a sewer system. If anyone wanted to teach, they would usually go to a larger synagogue and get their disciples from the school. But Jesus didn’t call any of his disciples from there.

Instead he went to Capernaum north of the Sea of Galilee, which was part of what is called the triangle. The triangle consisted of three towns – Capernaum, Bethsaida and Korazin. Most of the people who lived in this triangle were rural people with mostly fishing towns of about 600-2000 people who lived in community with one another. The people who lived in the triangle were known to be passionate about God and those who wanted to become disciples came here.

To become a disciple, there were four different levels of schooling they had to go through. The first level all boys and girls went through to learn to read and write and recite the Torah. The second level was called Beth Madrash for those who wanted more. They would come to the school and synagogue to listen and debate. The third level was called Tenah. Very few would get to this point and most had unusual ability. The fourth level was called Telmeed. These were those who planned on becoming disciples. Their desire went deeper than just learning. They wanted to know how to learn from the rabbi, live like the rabbi, become the rabbi. They had a deep commitment and passion to be like the rabbi. They were willing to give up everything and be with him 24 hours a day.

They would find a rabbi they liked and ask him if they could follow him. The rabbi would interview them and then decide if they would be accepted. If so, they would then live with him and follow him wherever he went until they learned to be like him. Then eventually he would tell them they were ready to make their own disciples. There were many who were rejected as disciples so they usually found a trade but lived close to the synagogue with passion for God still in their hearts.

So what did Jesus do? He went to Capernaum and taught in the synagogue and healed the sick. Then he went out and found his own disciples. He found five young men who had grown up together in Bethsaida – Peter, Philip, John, Andrew, and James. None of them were in rabbi school. Some were fishermen, which means they either had not the means to become a disciple or had been rejected. So here comes Jesus – a rabbi – and he says, “Come, follow me.” They have heard him speak and saw him heal the sick. They have talked about him and perhaps wished they could spend more time with him to find out more. Suddenly this opportunity to be a disciple for this rabbi springs into their lives. Is it any wonder that they dropped everything and followed him?

Jesus calls us to be His disciples too. He gives us the honor and privilege of learning from Him. Learning from Him and His gentleness in teaching me has developed an attitude of deep gratefulness in my heart towards Him and from that gratefulness springs worship.

Jesus later told them “You did not choose me, I chose you.” He basically said to them when he called them that he believed in them to become like him. He believes in us too that we can become like him.

To do that we need three things:

  1. Fire in your heart to desire it.
  2. The conviction that He believes in you.
  3. Passion that says I will spend the time I need to be with Him so I may become like Him.

Walk with Him

For the last few years every time I asked the Lord what He wanted me to do His answer was “walk with Me.”

Ps 116:9 “I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.”

The literal Hebrew translation says “[I will walk before the Lord] ‘Ethaleek’, I will set myself to walk. I am determined to walk; my eyes are now brightened, so that I can see; my feet are strengthened, so that I can walk; and my soul is alive, so that I can walk with the living.”

My son Ben went through a fear of traveling to China on a trip he was to take. He had to work through the mental attacks of the enemy telling him no one would care if anything happened to him or something might happen to his family while he was gone. He went away to his place where he meets God and the Lord told Him “I love you, why would I do that to you? I watch over you and protect you and your family.”

Joseph probably went through the same thing. He didn’t know when or if he would die either. He seemed to live this verse. Here he was forced into a servant’s position, he was forced to walk to Egypt and sold as a slave to Potipher. He could have resisted and he could have died, yet he walked daily not as a man in slavery, but as a man of God. He did not let fear get the better of him. He walked with God in a right attitude and spirit that allowed his gift of leadership to shine through his servanthood. If he had not been a good servant, he would never have become a great leader. Yet he also learned the ways of Egypt without becoming Egyptian so that he was equipped to be used of God when He needed him. His walk with God enabled him to show a Living God to the world.

As we walk with Him, it builds our faith. As we exercise that faith, we grow spiritually.

The results are:

It was a disciple’s hope to walk so close to the rabbi that the dust the rabbi kicked up with his sandals would end up on him. It was an honor to be covered with the rabbi’s dust. May you walk so closely to Jesus that the ‘dust’ of His presence covers you so others won’t see you, they will only see Him.


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