Used in “Leadership” class at Belhaven University, prison work, and counseling. This fits well with our six weeks of prison classes on “A Man and His Work.”
Care for others. Watch over them willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor (adapted from 1 Peter 5:2-4 NLT).
In recent posts, we have been learning from Bishop E. W. Benson. His “Rules for Serving” have helped me and others honor Jesus in the workplace. I have adapted Benson’s rules and added Scripture references and prayers. If you missed the last two posts, you can go back and read Serving Christ in Our Work Part 1 and Part 2
Benson’s theme is that Christ-like service is the opposite of selfishness. Jesus is the model of self-sacrificing, giving everything to and for others and putting aside His own needs to save and help us. The Lord’s sacrifice is unique as the God-man Mediator, but He is also our Supreme Example, and we should follow in His steps.1 Don’t be put off by Benson’s archaic language, but consider how to better serve the Lord and help people in our century.
Rule #10. Resist the urge to compare yourself with others or to compete. Collaboration and working together as a team for the organization’s good is more important than fighting with co-workers. Let us not over-estimate our own talents and achievements and look down on others or feel inferior to those higher up the ladder or more gifted than we are. Either way, the result is negative. Don’t assume that a person’s worth is governed by what they are able to do. Don’t stir up sinful feelings of coveting and jealousy in ourselves or others.
Scripture & Prayer: “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing to someone else, for each one should carry their own load….I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless….The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”2 Lord Jesus, you walked the earth as King of kings and Lord of lords, but you became the Suffering Servant. You did good and healed people under Satan’s power because God was with you. Your unselfishness confused the arrogant. Your love reached out to the poor, the needy, the lonely, the outcasts, the guilty ones, the ashamed ones. Make us like you and keep us from viewing ourselves better than anyone. Take away all self-importance and help us to imitate your humility. We pray in your name. Amen.
Rule #11. Do not hunger for conversation to focus on you, your needs, and your concerns. Self-centeredness is contrary to Christ’s teachings on love.3 If we live as if everything is about us, we will be left with just ourselves. When our goal is serving ourselves, we bring an end to ourselves. When we are full of ourselves, God sends us away empty (D. L. Moody).
Scripture & Prayer: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom….People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God….Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you look to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ. ”4 Lamb of God, by your example and teaching, you instructed us to be meek and humble. Give us grace, in every thought, word, and work, to imitate you. Help us put to death our sinful pride. Remind us that we are nothing and have nothing apart from you. Help us not seeking our own glory, but looking wholly unto you, acting wholly for you, and seeking your glory.5 We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Rule #12. Deserve, but do not seek favors, sympathies, or special treatment for yourself, but accept whatever comes, blessing the Lord. His opinion of us, His favor, sympathy, and special treatment of us is infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably more important.
Scripture & Prayer: “Should you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them…..Love is not self-seeking….The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”6 Help us never to speak words that tend to our own praise, unless our neighbor’s good requires it. Let our ears and hearts be careful with people’s applause. Help us to value and be content with the praise, glory, and honor that comes when Christ returns.7
Rule #13. If something goes wrong, take the blame rather than share or shift it. That’s a real leader. True leaders take responsibility for everything under their oversight. They turn mistakes into learning opportunities. Instead of pointing fingers they ask, “What could I have done differently?” They find lessons where others see only problems. They privately address subordinates’ mistakes with them, but take the blame publicly. If someone slipped up, they pick them up, not beat them up.
Scripture & Prayer: “You have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things….Stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”8 Father, if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, you are faithful and just and will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness. Help us to be honest about admitting our sin, welcoming your cleansing, and asking the Holy Spirit to help us sin less. As forgiven people, help us to forgive others and restore them. You never cast us out because of our failures, you uphold us with your righteous right hand. Help us do the same for others.
Rule #14. When credit for your work is given to another, do not be disturbed, but give thanks and trust the Lord to reward you in this world or the next. Do not rejoice too much in outward success or recognition from others, but rejoice most of all that our names are written in Heaven.9
Scripture & Prayer: “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds….God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life….Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”10 Father, help us not to make excuses or to wait for some big way to serve. Enable us to help others in the small ways that we can. Help us not to wait until all obstacles are removed; they won’t be removed until Christ returns for us. Help us not to delay until all our other tasks are done; they never all get done. Make us like the woman in Proverbs 31 who fears you, loves you, respects you, and trusts you and demonstrates that by caring for her family, her co-workers, and needy ones. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!
Notes: 1 1 Peter 2:21. 2 Gal 6:4-5; Ecc 4:4; 1 Sam 16:7. 3 see 1 Cor 13:4–7. 4 Prov 11:2; Rom 8:8; Phil 2:3-5. 5 Adapted from prayer by John Wesley. 6 Jer 45:5; 1 Cor 13:5; Zeph 3:17. 7 Adapted from prayer by Wesley. 8 Rom 2:1; 14:13. 9 Luke 10:20. 10 Isaiah 3:10; Rom 2:6-7; Rev 22:12.