Be Significant : A message for hurting hearts
This is one Sunday that I really hope I was not the one who is preaching. The reason is simple. I am still hurting from Joyce’s departure from our midst. May be many of you are too. I know that for seasoned preachers it might be easy, but for me, it is very difficult to preach a sermon of hope when I am still hurting, and Joyce’s departure hurts badly. Hurt is probably a mild word to explain the feeling. So yes, I have hoped that I am not the one who is preaching today. But then God had other plans.
So here I am, amidst asking several why questions. Why did this happen? Why does such things happen? Why Joyce? Why so suddenly? Why , why, why? Then the bible leads me to someone who asked such questions, and God did not answer any of his questions, but led him to a very different revelation. Job asked such questions, several of them. When God answered , it was not about the why? But it was about the Who. God did not say why such things happened, God just asked several questions back to Job to help him realise Who God was. It is not about why such a thing happened, it is about who do we serve. Who is God? I am sure we have heard several answers to this question, but God reminded me a few as I was preparing for this message.
God reminded me that He is sovereign. Paul told the Greek who God is. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth (Acts 17:24, ESV) Nebuchadnezzar puts it even more bluntly “ for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Dan 4:34-35 ESV). But this image of sovereignty is frightening if we see it as stand alone. Are we accounted as nothing? Will God do just as He pleases with our lives? This is where the second aspect of Who God is, is revealed to us.
God then tells us that He is Love. He is a loving God. Isaiah 43:3-4 (Msg) “Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” We suddenly realise that we need not be afraid of God’s sovereignty but can rest in the confidence that He will use that sovereignty to love us to the end, immaterial of how many times we mess up. He reconfirms this with several other statements like “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. (Jer 31:3 NKJV)
The third thing that He reveled to me is the fact that He does everything with a purpose. There is a purpose for everything that happens around us. Sure we don’t understand that purpose many times. Jesus himself told Peter before the rather simple act of feet washing, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” (John 13:7) For some of the things that happen around us we may have to wait till we reach heaven to find out what the purpose was, but He sure has a purpose for what happens.
And finally God reminded me that He has created us for eternity. This world is not our permanent home, this is a temporary place. This is transition, a prelude to what God has in mind for us. In our limited perspective we look at the present and ask Why. God keeps His eternal perspective and tells us to trust Him. He give glimpses of what He has in store for us. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3 ESV). He further paints a picture of this eternity thus. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:3-4)
So God continues to answer us our Why questions, with Who answers. This morning, may God give us the strength to accept the answer as it is. Know that our why questions are not getting answered, but there are several answers to the Who question. Let us have faith the believe in the Who and not be distressed by not always knowing the Why.
And the last aspect of God’s answer, the answer that this is not our permanent home, this is our transition place brought me to the next question. So what is our role while we are here? What makes people like Joyce be remembered? What set her apart in this world during her short stay here? I found the answer in “being significant”.
When you look around you, you can find four types of people. The first type are people who just exist for the sake of existence. They just survive through the day, just because the day exists and that have to get through it. They exhibit no passion nor energy to do anything for themselves or anybody else. These are the people who lead a life of survival. Then there is a second category of people who not only will not do anything for themselves, but will devalue themselves by saying that “I am worthless, I am a worm, I am useless etc”. These are people who lead a life of self-abasement. All of you will agree that these two types are not what you want to be. Then comes the third category of people who get up in the morning and want to go and achieve something, they want to acquire a new gadget, a new vehicle, a new dress or a new record, earn more money etc. These are the people who add a lot of value to themselves. They are the people who lead a life of success. You might think that this is a good category. Because that is what the world tells us today isn’t it? Be successful, seek success etc. Is there anything wrong in that? What is wrong with this type of life is that you might add a lot of value to yourselves, but not necessarily to others.
That is where the forth type of people come in. These are people who add a lot of value to themselves and to others. They acquire knowledge so that they can pass it on to others. They acquire wealth so that they can provide for others. They seek wisdom so that they can help those who are foolish. They seek health so that they can take care of the sick. You get the drift. These are people who lead a life of significance.
The life of significance is best described by Martin Luther, the 16th Century German reformer and the lead figure in the reformation of Christian Churches Worldwide “If there is anything good in us, it is not our own, it is a gift of God. But if it is a gift then it is entirely a debt one owes to love. And if it is a debt owed to love, then I must serve others with it, not myself. Thus my learning is not my own, it belongs to the unlearned and is the debt I owe to them. My wisdom belongs to the foolish, my power to the oppressed. My wealth belongs to the poor, my righteousness to the sinner. For these are the forms of God of which we must empty ourselves in order to be a servant. It is with all these qualities that we must stand before God and intervene on behalf of those who do not have them.”
When I look back at Joyce’s life, this is true for Joyce. She lived a life of significance. Anything she did was with the purpose of adding value to others. She acquired knowledge so that she could give it to others. She kept going despite her illnesses, so that she could make others better.
I am a Servant Leadership evangelist. My job is to spread the message of Servant Leadership in organisations. This is how I define Servant Leadership, “A servant leader is someone who invests in the life of another person to the extent that the other person becomes bigger, better, wiser, richer, healthier, wealthier, more famous than himself or herself” . Whenever I say this definition, I get responses like aww. But that is so difficult in this world. That is what makes Servant Leadership and Oxymoron. A term that contradicts in itself. Difficult, but doable. Leading a life of significance is one of the key requirements of Servant Leadership. When you choose to lead a life of significance, you have laid solid foundations for becoming a servant leader one day. Joyce did that. Joyce lived a life of significance.
And this is what Jesus asked His disciples to do. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:25-28 ESV). And Jesus did not say this only to the powerless. He said this because He know He had all power and authority with him. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. (John 13:3-4 ESV). It is knowing what power you have, what authority you have and yet choosing to serve others.
So , that is our challenge this morning. In whatever you choose to do in life, do not just seek success, seek significance. When you are faced with the question of which course to pursue after this, when you are eventually faced with the question of which career should you choose, do not be guided by what will give you success, seek significance. Whenever you are faced with a choice to make , ask the question, “will it add value to others while adding value to myself?” This will be our best tribute to Joyce.
Be significant and start your Servant Leadership journey today.
Let us pray.