The Ministry of Servant Leaders

Pastor Mike will be speaking on The Ministry of Servant Leaders. He will be reading out of Acts 6:1-7.

What we should desire as we seek to serve others, as we seek to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, is that God would bless us with a pure heart, not a tainted heart, not a heart that is filled with sin, not a heart that is distracted by the world, but a heart that is purely devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome to Hope Worth Having. My name is Mike Sanders and I am the senior pastor of the Open Door Church we are delighted to broadcast God’s Word to you and we are so thankful that you tuned in. Today we’re going to Acts chapter 6 and we’re learning about the ministry of servant leaders.

Join me now as we study Acts chapter 6 verses 1 through 7. This morning I want to talk to you about the ministry of servant leaders. Our church family has been tracking through the book of Acts. We’ve come to Acts chapter 6 this morning and in this chapter, we are reminded that every believer is called to ministry.

I want to say that again because I think it needs to sink into our hearts that every believer is called to ministry. The Bible says, for even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.

What matters in life is not how long you live, but how you live. And we understand that God is calling us not to live a life of selfishness, all about me, all about us, but he is calling us to live a life of servanthood.

Jesus said, if anyone serves me, he must follow me. And where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. The most significant thing that you’ll do in life, the most meaningful thing that you will do in life is to serve the Lord and to serve others.

There’s nothing that brings a greater blessing in your heart, and there’s nothing that brings more significance to your life than to be actively engaged in serving. The Bible teaches us that we are created to serve.

The Bible teaches us that we are saved to serve, that we are gifted to serve, and that we are shaped by God to serve, and so when we come to our text this morning in Acts chapter six, we see the ministry of serving.

leaders. I want you to begin with me in verse 1 the Bible says now in those days when the number of the disciples was multiplied there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said it is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom whom we may appoint over this business, but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

And the saying please the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith, and the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas, and Proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles, and when they had prayed they laid hands on them.

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. I want you to see in this text first of all the problem that called for servants.

The problem that existed created the need for servants. What we had was a logistical problem that had emerged because the church was growing so rapidly. There were many in the early days of the church that were coming to Christ.

They were abandoning the world, and they were turning away from their sin, and they were receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. And because of this great growth, the church recognized that there were many needs, and one of those needs was caring for the widows.

And that in the days of Jerusalem, as I’ve shared with you before, to leave Judaism, what you had always believed and now to follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior meant that you were abandoned by your family.

You were abandoned by any opportunity to create resources and to make money for your family to provide the basic needs of life. You were ostracized. You were, if you will, cast out and they didn’t want anything to be done.

And so the church had logistically set up a system to help care for people who were struggling. And one of those groups was the widows. And we see here that the Hellenistic believers felt that the widows were being neglected in the early church.

And so apparently the early church had set up some kind of a system where they were providing food and they were providing necessary things for survival to the widows that were unable to provide for themselves.

And all of a sudden we recognize that because of the growth of the church, the demand became so great that it was more than the apostles could handle. It was more than one man could handle, one person could handle, and so this growth problem led to a grumbling problem and the people began to complain.

They began to bring it to the attention of the apostles that there was negligence going on in the church, that people were being overlooked, and that there were details that were not being taken care of.

I want you to note something. I think it’s an important note about the early church, and I think it’s important because, in the times that we live in, it’s so important for you to have discernment. It’s so important for you to have the wisdom of God in your heart.

Did you note that? From the earliest times, the church always had a large number of widows. So many times I hear people say, well, we just need to reach the young people. I’m for reaching the young people, but I’m for reaching all people, amen?

I mean, the church, a healthy church, is not just a church of young people, but it’s a church of all age groups. Even in the inception of the church in the early days of the Book of Acts, we see that God was so powerfully working in the hearts of people that he was not only attracting and adding to the church young families and young people, but even the older people were coming to the Lord Jesus Christ.

A healthy church is not just a young church and a healthy church is not just an old church, but a healthy church is a church of all ages spread out throughout the church family. To think any differently, to have some kind of a strategy that says we don’t want to reach the old people, we only want to reach the young people is a flawed strategy that is not rooted in the Bible.

This problem was a logistical problem. And so I want you to see in verse 2, the purpose of the servant leaders, you’ll see in verse 2, the Bible says that the 12, that is the apostles, summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, it’s not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

In essence, what they were trying to say is that our priority is to be able to preach and teach the Bible. Our priority is to be able to prepare the people with the word of God and to be able to spend time in prayer for the people because the early church leaders believed in the power of prayer.

They believed in the significance of ministering with the spiritual weapons that God had given the church. You see today, so often we try man’s methods to make headway into the world that we live in, but what we need to remember is that the weapons that we have are not of this world.

They are the weapons of God, and that is that we pray, that we have the word of God, that we have the people of God, that we have the promises of God, we have the principles of God, and that these truths and these weapons that we have are far superior to anything that the world can offer to each of us.

In the midst of this problem, the church did not turn to the world for the answers. In the midst of this problem, the church did not look for some special program or some kind of worldly approach to solve the problem.

But the purpose, they looked within the church at the people of God, and they were desiring that servants would rise up and take care of the problem. The purpose was to alleviate the burden of the pastors and the leaders so that they could stay focused on what they were called to do.

So they appointed qualified servants to supervise the special needs within the congregation. What you are seeing here is the tea leaves and the beginning of the roles and responsibilities in the church beginning to emerge within the church family.

Throughout the church, and the scriptures, we see that God raises up many who will serve in a very special way to help alleviate the burden of the leaders of the church. We see that in Philippians 2:25, a man named Epaphroditus.

The apostle said, I thought it necessary to send you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also a messenger and a minister to my needs. We think of the leaders in the church as people who are not human and we elevate them and we should show respect and honor, but remember that the leaders in the church are human and they have emotions and they have good days and they have bad days and they just like everyone else need to be minister to.

Epaphroditus was that kind of a person. He wanted to be a blessing to the Apostle Paul. He wanted to be a blessing to the pastor. He wanted to be a blessing to anybody and everybody that he could. That’s what servanthood is.

That is the purpose of servanthood. If you come and you say, look, I wanna be a burden and I just wanna put more problems on the church leadership. No, that’s not what God wants. He wants us to not drain people, but to refresh people.

God wants us to be the kind of people that are lifting others up. What I call balcony people. Have you ever met balcony people? You know there are only two types of people in this world. There are those who are balcony people and basement people.

Basement people are always pulling you down. Every time you’re around them, they’re pulling you down. They’re full of negativity. They’re full of complaints. They’re full of problems. Nothing’s going right in the world.

You heard about the guy that was always complaining. His grandkids decided they would play a trick on him and they put some Limburger cheese underneath his nose he woke up and smelled that cheese and he said, Man, it stinks in this room.

And then he went into the kitchen, he said, it stinks in the kitchen too. And he went outside and he said, the whole world stinks. And you know, I think that’s the way some people are, that they look at life and they just are always seeing life through the glass half empty and they’re full of negativity rather than being a balcony person who is pulling people up, who is encouraging, who is refreshing people, who are building, who is edifying others, they’re basement people pulling down.

If you wanna be a true servant of God, if you wanna be a person that makes a difference in the cause of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, I wanna challenge you to make a commitment in your heart today to be a balcony person, to be like Epaphroditus who ministered to the needs of the apostle Paul.

It was not only the purpose of the servants to alleviate the pastor’s burden but also to alleviate the people’s burden. Now you’ll note in verse two that at the end, there is this phrase, serve tables. It is the Greek word diakonos.

It means the idea of ministry. It is the idea of serving. It has its origin in being a waiter, or a waitress. So a diakonos, a minister, a servant is one who serves tables. It evolved in the church later on.

By the time we get to 1 Timothy in the Bible, it has become a designation of a role within the church. An office in the church. And here we see that what God is helping us to understand is as we serve God, we are called to be servants.

We are called to be ministers. I’m reminded in 1 Corinthians chapter 16 when the apostle again highlighted a family that was very much committed to serving others. He said, now I urge you, brothers, you know that the household or the family of Stephanus, were the first comforts in Achaia and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints.

That’s what God wants you to be, is dedicated to the service of the saints. The word devoted has the idea of being addicted. It’s an addiction to serving others. You don’t see that often, but yet even in these unique times and uncertain times that we live in, God is calling us to be servants.

He is calling us to be addicted to servanthood. Now, you know, I see many times there are problems within families, and these problems emerge. And I really believe that at the heart of these problems is because people struggle in their relationships with one another, whether it’s a husband and wife struggling, or parents and children struggling, or whatever it might be.

And I wanna tell you the antidote to dealing with the problems in your home is servanthood. That if you came home every day and said, how could I serve my wife? How could I be a blessing to her? If you came home every day and said, how could I be a blessing and serve my husband?

If you come home and you recognize that God has called you to be a servant, here’s the mistake people make in marriage. They’re interested in what they can get out of a marriage rather than what they can put into a marriage.

And marriage is not about what you get out of it, but it’s everything about what you put into it. And so many people are just interested in what they can get out of it. And that’s why there’s conflict.

And that’s why they struggle. And that’s why there’s hurt. And that’s why there’s separation. But I wanna challenge you to be that kind of person, whether it’s in the home, whether it’s in the church, whether it’s in the community, to be devoted to serving others.

The third thing that I want you to see in this text is the prerequisites of being a servant leader. Now as the church was dealing with this issue of negligence in the distribution of the saints of God who were widows, they realized that they had to appoint some people to do the job.

And so I want you to see three things that stand out that are essential to your ability to serve God. And whether it’s serving as an office in the church or whether it is serving in your home or whether it is serving in your community, listen, all these characteristics are essential into the success of our servanthood.

And you say, why is that? Because what a person is within cannot be divorced from what they say and do. We often think that, well, we can just say and do and be something else. But the truth is the Bible teaches us that it’s all interwoven and it’s interlinked.

The qualifications that the church was looking for in providing people who would serve were not financial. It was not even their commercial or business abilities, but it was their spiritual commitment to Christ.

I want you to see these three things. You might wanna write these down if you’re taking notes. Number one, I want you to see the purity of these people. Did you see that in verse three? It says, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation.

Reputation within the church family and reputation without the church family or within the community. Here’s the point, is that these were people that others watched their lives. And they noted that these people were distinct and different.

They were pure people. They were honest people. They were authentic in their faith. They were people devoted to doing the right thing, living for the Lord, and loving the Lord. That within their heart, there was not this desire to take advantage of others, but they were purely faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ in their heart.

What we should desire as we seek to serve others, as we seek to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, is that God would bless us with a pure heart. not a tainted heart, not a heart that is filled with sin, not a heart that is distracted by the world, but a heart that is purely devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s incumbent upon every church to entrust its ministries to those who are committed to being godly people, moral people, and people who will live purely before the Lord Jesus Christ. You say, well, Pastor, what about this person, what about that person?

They’re not the standard, quit worrying about others. It’s like Jesus said to Peter when Peter said, well, what about John? And Jesus said, what’s it to you? You know, everybody’s always trying to compare and everybody’s trying to measure their life by someone else.

You gotta stop that mess because it will never lead to true fruit in your life. You measure your life by the truth of God and you measure your life by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our standard. We strive to be like Him.

We uphold Him as our Lord and our Savior and the one that we seek to imitate and to walk after. The second prerequisite to serving the Lord is power. Did you see that in the text again? Look at verse three, that they were full of the Holy Spirit.

They were full of the Holy Spirit. I’m saying to you that all that God wants you to be in being a servant to your spouse, a servant to your church family, a servant in your community, hear me, is not possible in your own strength.

Did you hear me? Do you wanna know why marriages fail? Because people are operating in their own strength. Do you understand why families fall apart? It’s because people are operating in their own strength.

But when you surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ and you give your heart fully and freely to Him If you receive Him as your Lord and Savior, the Bible says that the Spirit of God will live within you.

And when the Spirit of God lives within you, He will empower you to be that person of serving others. It’s not natural in our flesh to serve others. Let’s just be honest. If we could just kinda open the closets of our hearts, we honestly believe we wanna do what’s best for us.

Because that’s human nature. You know, sometimes people will say to me, I don’t believe that people are born sinful and selfish. You know what I tell them? Have children. I mean, you know, I could give them a lot of theology and I could give them a lot of theological books, but I just say have kids and that’ll solve the problem.

That’ll straighten out your theology because you don’t train your children to have a meltdown at Walmart. You don’t train your children to fall on the floor, kick and scream, and yell at the heights of their voices during a trip to go see grandma.

I don’t know any moms and dads. They’re saying now, Johnny, when we get to grandma’s house, I want you to grab everything and throw it and kick it and destroy everything in the house. No, they don’t do that.

Do you know why? Because it’s innately within them. All people are born into this world as sinners. And because of that, we are selfish. What is the answer to the sinfulness and selfishness of mankind? It is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ comes in and He saves us from our sins. The Bible says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. Can God’s people say amen? And so the Lord washes me and He cleanses me of my sin and He helps me to be that person that God wants me to be.

You say, how could I be a servant to my spouse? How could I ever be a servant in the church? How could I ever be a servant in my community? Listen, through the power of the Spirit of God, living in all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The third qualification is prudence. It is prudence. Did you see that again in verse three? He says that they must have wisdom. They must have wisdom. Wisdom is essential. Now, wisdom is not that you have a lot of degrees after your name.

Wisdom is not that you are educated and somehow you’re smarter than the average person. No, my friends, I know many people who are educated beyond their obedience. I mean, they have a lot of letters after their name, but the truth is they don’t have common sense, amen?

I mean, if you wanna see recklessness and you wanna see people without wisdom, just look to Washington, D.C., amen? I mean, those people, they can’t find their way out of a paper bag. I’m just being honest with you and they might cancel me and they might shut me down, but I’m just telling you the truth.

I mean, common sense has left the building. But what God wants is that if we’re gonna serve Him, we’ve gotta be a people of wisdom. Not the wisdom of the world, and not the wisdom of some kind of intellectual education, but the wisdom of God that teaches us how to know people and understand people, the wisdom of God that leads us and guides us to make good choices and to make great decisions.

Your life is a consummation of your choices. You say, why am I where I am? Because of the choices you’ve made. And where will you be five years from now? The choices you make. The choices you’re making today.

When I go up and speak to our young people at Cumberland Valley Christian School in chapel, I tell them where you’re gonna be five years from now after you graduate is based upon the decisions you are making today.

You make a series of bad decisions. It’s gonna take you years to recover. Now, unfortunately, some people, they don’t. come to full wisdom until after they have flattened out and hit rock bottom. But I wanna tell you this, if you wanna be an effective servant of God, you must be filled with the wisdom of God.

You say, where do I get that wisdom? Hear me. You get God’s wisdom through His word, and you get God’s wisdom through prayer, and you get God’s wisdom by hanging around wise people. The Bible teaches us to be teachable.

Do you see, some people are just hard-headed. They know everything. They got it all figured out. And the truth is, we need to be a teachable generation. We need to be a generation that says I can learn from others.

A generation says I haven’t figured it out. I understand that you can ask Siri, and Siri will tell you the answer. You know, sometimes when my kids were growing up, I would just kind of like to get them all worked up and excited about something.

So I would make random statements just to get them all excited. In the old days, that always worked because they had no other resources to know if their dad was telling them the truth or not. But now they say to me, they say, Dad, we asked Google, and Google told us you don’t know what you’re talking about.

And all I want you to know is this, wisdom doesn’t come from technology, but it comes from learning from others, being teachable, staying on your knees and praying, and living in the word of God.

The Bible says the wise in heart shall be called prudent, and the sweetness of the lips increases learning. Now the final thing that I want you to see is the advantage of being a servant. What was this advantage?

Look at verse four. The Bible says that the apostles were gonna give themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. They were giving themselves to prayer. They were giving themselves to preparing and proclamation all.

of the Word of God. And that created a great blessing in the church which led to great results, great results as a result of many people stepping up and being leaders. Would you jump down to verse seven?

Then the Word of God spread and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem. What you saw was the spreading of the Word of God. When more people get involved and more people are serving and more people are activated for the Lord Jesus Christ, you are gonna see God’s Word spread.

And when God’s Word spreads, more people come to Christ more people obey Christ and more people follow Him. Something that we must consider for us as believers is what is our responsibility to our community.

What is our responsibility towards those who are in need? What is our obligation? I want you to think about that this week, and I want you to consider that because the Bible teaches us that we are accountable and responsible to each other.

But I also want you to understand that God calls us to serve, to get involved. And whether he’s calling you to serve in your home, your church, or your community, he’s calling all of us to find our place and to serve him.

The early church members felt a sense of responsibility towards one another. They understood that everybody was not perfect and every circumstance wasn’t perfect, but whatever they could do to help one another.

What I want to challenge you this morning is this, is to be a servant leader, to walk out of this place today and say I’m more committed to serving. What I want to say to you, church, is the only way we can advance the kingdom of God is not that the pastor does everything, but the people pick up the mantle and say, here’s a need, let’s get involved.

Now some people say to me, they say, well, Mike, I’m not gifted to do that. Well, let me tell you something. There are some things that there is no gift for. There’s no special gift to move chairs and tables or anything like that.

So get that stuff out of your mind. And remember that just step up and serve God wherever the door opens. We challenge our members that every week you need to do one worship right here with God’s people, worshiping Him.

Every week you need to do one Bible study and commit a small group of believers where you can learn the word of God together, fellowship, encourage, and practice one another. But you also need to do one serve.

What are you doing for God? What are you doing for your family? What are you doing for your community? What are you involved in? Where you are sacrificing and- you are serving for the advancement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Let’s pray again. There is no doubt that every believer is called to ministry. I mean, God didn’t just say, hey, I want you to get saved and inset and do nothing. He really wants us to be fully engaged in ministry.

And we’re learning what that means and how we do that. And so Acts chapter six, there were problems in the church and what does God do? He appointed the apostles to organize a group of men to help lead the church and to address some of these problems so that the gospel could continue to go out.

And that’s what we are to do in the local church to be true servants of God. And so I hope that these principles are affecting your life and making an impact upon you. I want to thank you for listening and being a part of today’s program.

This is Pastor Mike Sanders reminding you that in Christ there is hope worth having.

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