At Mountain Springs Church, the church I attend in Colorado Springs, I was intrigued by a recent message delivered by Pastor Steve Holt, and also inspired. In developing this essay about the implications of Servant-Leaders in the Church, his analogy is that we each possess a “city within us” that is made of choices on what kind of city we want to be or what God wants us to be. The thesis regards a foundation hitting the bedrock of the leader from inside. The foundation is solid reading and application of the Word and worship in the Spirit. Then there are developing elements that give us a choice of either being a city that looks like a New Jerusalem or like Old New York!
When this is a regular part of a leader’s life then it can permeate the church and his community from the inside out! When Mountain Springs sees an issue that needs to be addressed, or a challenge that is affecting our community then we can act within God’s calling (like the adoption issue). It starts within the municipality that has jurisdiction over the leader. When each member sees their role as worship- “blessing God” with what He has given us (Gifts and Talents) and the muscles of the heart and mind (Romans 12) are the living sacrifices of Praise, then we know the purpose of what God has given each individual to work for His good; to serve the Body; and to serve Christ.
This is the quintessential servant-leader’s calling, to bring every thought captive and obedient to Christ. (2 Cor.10:5) In my personal work there is an infrastructure of how to best serve Christ. What conditions are the roads, the bridges, the power grid, transportation? Can the message and the service get out freely? How about my healthcare system? Am I nutritionally sound, and am I getting the right amount of exercise? How about education? Am I in the word, am I praying? Am I honing the skills God gave me? If I’m the Mayor of the city within, am I a city on a hill or one that is down in the valley? Can people see its lights way beyond the city limits? Or is it dim when there is a fog that is hidden from the world? How well guarded is my city? Are there breaches in the walls? Is there a battle in the mind, a struggle with what I let in? Can I shine or receive light, if the power grid needs replacing?
Am I a Marion Barry kind of Mayor or a Lionel Rivera? Do I self-destruct or do I build up? Is my city one that the King would dwell in? And is it in unity with the rest of the Kingdom? Or is it uninhabitable in the present state, waiting for an overhaul? Is God building and rebuilding the city? Or do the workers labor in vain (Psalm 127)?
If the purpose of worship is to bless God in developing the raw materials He has given each “individual city,” then by developing the gifts and talents that are built into our infrastructure we can lead and mentor others to serve the overall Kingdom by serving our church. In this way the implications of servant-leaders working from the inside out is limitless in serving the church, the community and for the long run the Kingdom.
Am I reading too much into this message? Or is God teaching our Church Body and servant leader’s fundamentals of how He works within us? We can’t serve if we are not connected. We also can not find purpose with the gifts and talents that He wants us to serve with, if we are not connected to the body. A city cannot thrive by itself it needs other municipalities in order to serve.
A session musician who I used in recording soundtracks once said to me: “Just because I’m good does it mean I’m called to do it?” For years the question haunted me. What is the equation of calling versus gifts and talents? How can we use these gifts and talents to serve others if we have breaches in our walls? That’s the attitude of the unity of heart and mind. If we acknowledge God for what he has given us there is no ego that can penetrate the wall. If we realize that serving through the gifts and talents He has given us is the purpose of what to do with what we are good at then we are blessing God! Finally it has dawned on me on how to answer my musician friend. I would ask him the question: “What motivates you to practice, play and study the instrument? Is it money? Is it ego? If so then the attitude of the heart has to change. I found in my own life that music is not the main calling in ministry; there usually is something else more concrete that God uses for us to serve Him and to communicate. Music is a manifestation of another gift. Whether that gift is prophecy (David chose musicians for prophetic lyric writing); hospitality; encouragement, exhortation, or teaching it depends on what God has in mind. Sometimes music is just a communication tool between the psalmist, God and the people. How one manages gifts and talents according to how they serve is knowing how to be a good Mayor over your municipality!
Although I used music as an example there are other elements of gifts and talents that could be inserted. One of the main problems of the interpretation of “the separation of church and state” is the attitude that there is a mandated separation of our gifts and talents and our work, with the purpose for which they were meant for, and that is serving the body of Christ and worshipping God through the work. The implications in our communities of managing the kind of city He is building from the inside-out; serving the Lord with integrity; and applying God’s Word to all we do, are three aspects that have profound implications in building the Kingdom of God. When we bless God with the gifts that He has called us to use, He anoints them in order to use the individual servant to be a strong instrument in accomplishing His will. When leaders are obedient to this calling then the implications of servant-leaders working in the church can make a profound difference in our communities.
Holt, Steve, “The God we Worship” Nehemiah 9, Mountain Springs Church, Colorado Springs, CO. June 17, 2007.
Staff, The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids MI. 1988