A Servant’s Heart: Prescription for Passion
I believe Moses was one of the best models of a servant who lived out his life calling. Moses was one of the best models in the Old Testament of a passionate servant through whom God implemented great things. Moses lived out his calling to fulfill and meet the needs of other people. Whenever God implements great vision, God uses passionate servants to fulfill that which God has promised. All throughout the Old Testament, Moses was one who exemplified what being a passionate servant is all about. Moses had this huge opportunity. He had this great task of liberating a disgruntled group of people out of a place of problems into a place of promise.
Moses had this huge task of delivering people out of Egypt into this Promised Land, but Moses realized he couldn’t do it by himself. Even though Moses had a speech impediment and self-esteem issues, God would use him and give him confidence to radically change his life. Moses realized that God could use his issues as an awesome instrument for great acts of service. Even though Moses had low self-esteem, a speech impediment and lacked courage, God used his issues as an instrument for greater acts of service.
This radical transformation, this change in Moses’ life, took place at the burning of a bush. It was here that Moses received encouragement and empowerment. It was at this burning bush that Moses was filled with passion. God used Moses’ issues as an instrument to live out God’s greater purpose, and when Moses was encouraged, God used his shortcomings to live for this tremendous vision that God had placed before him. It was through this passion that Moses was commissioned to serve and to live for God’s greater purpose. It was in this moment at the burning bush that Moses was empowered to go forth with confidence, realizing that God was with him. Can you recall your burning bush moment? Can you recall that moment that you were ignited with passion, and something on the inside of you became excited, and you realized that God wanted to do great things through you in your life? Can you remember that moment when something was ignited inside of you, to go forth, to live out the tremendous dreams that God had bestowed upon you?
It is so easy to get overwhelmed when we think about all the things that God has for us, in this church, in our workplace, in our homes, that we can get overwhelmed, can’t we? We can be overwhelmed, but know that with every vision, God gives provision through our passion. With every vision, with every great opportunity, God will provide provision, but it’s only through our passion. Moses didn’t realize it, but he soon discovered that the only way that you can accomplish anything greater than yourself has to be through God-given passion.
It’s passion that not only gets you started but it’s passion that carries you through the difficult times as well. These folks were ready to go back to Egypt. Moses needed passion because years later, that same group of people that came out of Egypt now were in the wilderness, and began to complain, "Moses, why did you bring us this far? We were better off in Egypt." At that moment, in the middle of the wilderness, Moses had to be reminded of that passion that God had given him at that bush. Every now and then, it’s in our wilderness moments that God has to remind us of that passion, and it’s in that passion that we begin to live out things that are greater than ourselves. Moses needed passion because these folks were complaining. The closer you get to your place of promise, the more your passion will be under attack. The more you live out your God-given purpose, the more you must protect your passion.
Moses took things for granted, and at that moment his passion was under attack. Moses got overwhelmed, and at that moment, Moses needed to be reminded of that burning bush encounter. When you look at the needs of the people in the community and the problems of our town, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But like Moses, we can’t get overwhelmed. Like Moses, we need to be reminded of that burning bush moment. Like Moses, we have to be reminded of the passion that God has given us. As we move forward this year, there will be great opportunities; God will give us more opportunities to meet the needs of so many people, but you have to keep your passion. How do you do that?
First, we must separate from the negative. Let’s look at verse 13, "The next day, Moses sat, as usual, to hear the people’s complaints against each other, and they were lined up in front of him, morning until evening." Moses was spending too much time and energy dealing with negative people who constantly complained. And dealing with complaining people day and night was beginning to wear him down. It seems that all the people did was complain. They’d complain because of what God had or hadn’t done when they were going through the wilderness. Moses just sat there and took all of it. As passionate servants, we have to separate ourselves from the negative. It’s too easy to be drawn into a vicious cycle of negativity. Negativity can distract and deplete our passion. Negativity can distract us from our God purpose, and it can deplete or diminish our passion.
Have you ever noticed how strong negativity can be in our lives? As passionate servants, we want to meet the needs of everybody. Moses wanted to meet the needs of everybody; he wanted to please everybody. Moses hadn’t realized it, but he was drawn into a vicious cycle of negativity. For some strange reason, like some of us—not here, of course, but the people down the street–Moses wanted to have a "Messiah complex," and he wanted to fix everybody’s stuff. Have you ever met somebody that wanted to fix everybody’s stuff? But, Moses hadn’t realized that he was internalizing everybody’s trouble, everybody’s trash, and everybody’s trials. Before you knew it, Moses was consumed and overwhelmed. He had heard so much negativity, that Moses couldn’t focus on the vision that God had given him. Passionate servants have to separate from negative people. In Hebrews 12:1, Paul reminds us to "throw off everything that hinders us." We are to throw off all the negativity and the sin that so easily entangles us.
Negativity can pollute your spirit and stagnate your momentum. Not only do we need to separate from negative people, but we need to separate ourselves from our own negative character. Sometimes it’s not always negative people, but it’s us being negative. To live out your God-given purpose with passion, we have to separate ourselves from having negative character. It is critical that we, as passionate servants, watch the words and the language that comes out of our mouths. Jesus says in Matthew 12:37, "For by your words, you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Our words can either set us free, or our words can keep us in bondage. Because he was surrounded by negative people, Moses wasn’t able to allow the power of God to flow through him.
We have to be careful with what we say, and how we say it, because our words can either make us or break us. We have to separate ourselves from negative speaking and negative thinking and negative language. I know all too well what it means to separate from the negative. Negativity can be so vicious. You have to separate from negative language, negative people. Negativity is like high blood pressure: it’s a silent killer. And right now, somebody’s teetering, ready to give up, because you haven’t separated yourself from negative people and from negative character.
After you separate from negativity, you have to surround yourself with wisdom. In verses 14-18, Because of negativity, Moses’ vision was impaired. Moses needed someone in his life who could see what he couldn’t see. Moses needed somebody in his life to give him a different perspective or a different outlook on what he was dealing with. Moses needed someone in his life, and God used his father-in-law, Jethro, to intervene as a source of wisdom, to place him back on his passionate track of serving. All of us need somebody in our lives to help us see when we can’t see for ourselves, and God used Moses’ father-in-law, not “out-law,” but his “in-law,” Jethro. Jethro initially had no relationship with God. He didn’t know the God of Israel, but for years Jethro watched Moses passionately serve. He watched how God worked through him, he watched how God used Moses in such a miraculous way, and it was through him watching Moses, that Jethro got connected to God.
The interesting thing about this, God used Moses to connect Jethro to himself, but now God was using Jethro to give Moses godly wisdom. Never underestimate whom God can use to give you wisdom. God will use some of the people you least expect to place you back on your passionate track to serve. If we’re going to experience any kind of godly success in areas of service; it is vital that we surround ourselves with people of wisdom. We need people in our lives who can see when we can’t see. We need people in our lives who have been where we’re trying to go. Everybody needs a Jethro in his or her lives. Who’s your Jethro? Who keeps you on track and gives you the godly wisdom to give you a new perspective, to give you a new set of eyes to help you to go to the place where God has called you to be? Everybody needs somebody in their lives who can be vulnerable and willing to share both their successes and their failures.
Godly wisdom is when people can share with you the things that they did wrong to help you do things right. God wants to do great things in our lives, but before you can become someone else’s hero and give him or her godly wisdom, make sure you share with the person some of your zeros. People don’t care how much you succeed, but they want to know how you came back from failure. Jethro apparently saw something in Moses that he had dealt with himself, so Jethro asked Moses the question, "Why are you trying to accomplish all this by yourself? What are you really doing here, Moses? Is your serving making a difference? Are you being task-driven, or are you transformation-driven?" Moses showed up every day, trying to do it all. Moses had no longer become transformation-driven, but he was simply task-driven. Are you simply doing service, or are you being a servant who makes a difference? God wants us to go beyond task-driven to become transformation-driven.
Jethro could see what Moses couldn’t see, and then asked another question, "Why don’t you give some of this stuff away? You can’t do it by yourself. You’re wearing yourself out, and you’re wearing other people out. Moses, give some of that stuff away." God is telling you, "You can’t do it by yourself! Give some of that stuff away." Only when you give it away, can others live out their God-given service with passion. You can’t do it by yourself, and Jethro tells Moses, "Remember, I’m giving you wisdom, but it’s not only to help you, but to help others live out their God-given dream." You have to surround yourself with godly wisdom.
After you surround yourself with wisdom, serve out of your strength. Verses 19 and 20 Whenever God brings about big missions, it is so easy to get distracted in other areas of interest. Whenever God does big things, it is so easy to want to do so many things, but God want us to have fixed, focused faith and serve out of our strengths. Moses was called to be a servant leader. Moses was called to be a pastor to empower the people. Moses was called to be the visionary, to cast the vision to get people out of a place of problems, into a place of promise. Moses was the visionary leader, but it was the people’s responsibility to live out the day-to-day routine things that would help bring the vision to pass. Moses cast the vision, he was doing it all, and Moses was wearing himself out. To be a passionate servant, you have to serve out of your strengths. Moses realized that as a result of being a people pleaser, he had become sidetracked. He stopped serving out of his areas of strength. As passionate servants, we must serve out of our God strengths, rather than others’ expectations. Moses had been doing the same old thing, both day and night for so long. He showed up every day, listened to folks’ complaints, showed up every day, watching folks take numbers. Moses had forgotten what God had called him to do. Moses forgot his primary purpose and his strength was to be a visionary leader, not a people pleaser. Moses was called to live out his life with passion, to be a visionary leader, to live out his God strengths, and not others’ expectations. Moses began failing to live out of his strengths, and he even began to default to his weaknesses.
How many times do many of us want to please everybody with everything? But God has said, "You’re not here to please people, you’re here to please God, and to live out your God-given strengths." Moses began to understand that it wasn’t about just connecting with others’ expectations, but it was connecting back to his God-given strengths. It is so important to live out your God-given strengths, to serve with your strengths, and when you serve with your strengths, you become a powerful tool in the hands of God. It’s good to know who you are, but it’s better to know who you aren’t. God says it’s when we realize our weaknesses that our strengths are made stronger. It’s in our strengths that we become a stronger tool in the hand of God.
Here at Ginghamsburg, we believe totally in operating and living and doing ministry out of your strengths. There’s a vital tool here called Ministry by Strengths, and it’s through this awesome class that you discover and develop your strengths. It’s in this class that you find your best fit to serve in the church, and even the workplace. When you understand your strengths, you’re no longer confused. When you understand your strengths, you no longer question whether or not it’s of God. When you know your strengths, you surrender everything to God, and you become a more powerful tool in the hands of God. To this day, my passion has been overflowing like never before, because I realize the strengths that God has placed within me.
Today, there’s a great demand here in accomplishing the vision of this church. There’s a great demand in your workplace. There’s a great demand in your home. But, don’t get overwhelmed, God has strategically placed you for where you are right now, to live out your calling with power and passion. But you have to do it when you serve out of your strengths. I challenge you to separate from negative folk. Surround yourself with some wisdom. Starting this day forward, don’t be a people pleaser, but serve out of your strengths. And that will be your prescription for passion. There’s passion within all of us, and God wants to build that passion back up. Don’t be overwhelmed, God can use you right where you are. Let’s pray. "Lord, we thank You and we praise You for the power to separate from negative people. We thank You for the ability to invite wisdom into our lives. Lord, we praise You for the initiative to understand our strengths. We give You thanks and we praise You for allowing us to be vital tools, to help build up Your kingdom. We give You thanks for this prescription for passion. In Jesus’ name we pray, and all God’s children said, Amen."