Summary: Expository sermon using Jesus example to articualte foundations for sound ministry.

Mindset for Ministry

Fortifying the Foundations # 30

John 13:1-20[1]


In 1904 the heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, William Borden, graduated from Chicago High School a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. During that trip he became burdened for all the hurting people he saw in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He made a decision to prepare for the mission field. When he made that decision he wrote in his Bible the words, “No Reserve.”

When William Borden arrived at Yale University the next year as a freshman his passion for Christ was already kindled. He was disappointed to find the school morally bankrupt and the teaching filled with empty philosophy. So during his first semester, he asked a friend to begin praying with him before breakfast. As a result of his leadership other prayer groups began to spring up. And by his senior year, 1,000 of the 1,300 students were meeting in prayer groups. Many of those young leaders came to the Lord through that movement.

Upon graduation he was offered high paying jobs. But he turned those offers down and continued to pursue God’s call on his life. While making those decisions he wrote two more words in his Bible, the words “No Retreat”.

When he completed his studies at Princeton Seminary he sailed to China to work with the Muslims. On the way he stopped in Egypt to study Arabic. But there in Egypt he was stricken with spinal meningitis and within a month at the age of 25 he died. What his friends and family found written in his Bible was a great source of comfort. Added to the words previously written, “No Reserve, No Retreat” were two more words, “No Regrets”.[2]

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing for you and me to arrive at the end of our earthly journey with those words written in our hearts, “No Reserve, No Retreat, No Regrets”?

William Borden is an example of a person who entered into his ministry and fulfilled God’s plan for his life and could come to the end with “No Regrets”.

This morning as we come to our text in John 13, we want to draw from Jesus’ example insight on how we too can finish our course with no regrets (How we can enter the ministry God has for us and fulfill His purpose for our lives). In this passage Jesus washes the disciples feet and in doing so teaches us a powerful lesson on servanthood. A couple of years ago I preached a message from this text emphasizing the call to follow that example and serve one another with humility of heart.[3] That is the central them of our text.

But today rather than focus on what Jesus did or even said in these verses, I want us to consider the mindset behind his actions and words. Before we can consistently follow Jesus’ example of serving, we must have our minds renewed[4] so that we think the way he thinks. That forms the foundation of long-term ministry.

The Apostle John has provided something for us in this text that is extremely helpful toward that happening in our lives. By the revelation of the Holy Spirit he has shared with us what Jesus was thinking during those last hours in the upper room. Here is a precious treasure. Here is a key that unlocks the door of fruitful ministry and a fulfilling life.

What kind of thinking empowers you and me to serve with joy and not lose our passion for ministry? What do you need to know in order to take the place of a servant and follow the example Jesus gives us here?

I. Know who you are in God.

If we don’t know who we are in God we will spend most of our energy doing things to define our identity. And tragically nothing we can do—no attainment, no honor, no accomplishment, no amount of human recognition can adequately define our identity.

Why? Because your identity is not found in what you do but in whom you are by the grace of God. That’s why Paul spends so much time in the first half of Ephesians explaining to those believers who they are in Christ. That’s why we read in that epistle statements like Eph 1:4-5 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” And Eph 2:7-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

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Jeffery Kerkhoff

commented on Jun 6, 2009

Thanks, Richard. I much appreciated this message!

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