By Who & How You Serve

By Who & How You Serve

For the month of October – as has become the tradition here at PB UMC – we will be engaging in Stewardship conversations. We will do so alongside concepts from Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christenson’s book How Will You Measure Your Life? (available online here for those who wish, though not required).

Note: Some of this series and supporting materials are sourced from, a ministry of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

This final Sunday in the series focuses on service. We have hopefully understood for a long time that our stewardship to the ministries fo the church is about far more than financial gifts. If we are to give ourselves wholly into our faith in Christ, this must not be limited to contributions from our checkbooks. Jesus asked more of his disciples, and Jesus asks more of us.

Jesus reminds us throughout our New Testament that greatness comes in service. It is the weak and marginalized who are lifted up and empowered and nurtured. The valleys are lifted up, and the mountains are brought low. The last are made first, and the first are made last.

Mark 10:35-37, 41-45 (CEB)
35James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37They said, “Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.”

41Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with James and John. 42Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. 43But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 44Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, 45for the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”

Consider these questions:

  1. In Jesus’ day (and today), many leaders required titles and honorifics. But Jesus taught differently. Who are today’s equivalents to the leaders (especially religious leaders) of Jesus’ time? How easy or hard is it to set aside human ideas of greatness in favor of Jesus’ teachings of greatness as service?
  2. One profound example of Jesus’ teachings about service is in the washing of the disciples’ feet just before being betrayed and arrested. But this was not only an illustrative lesson, but a practical service. What are some practical ways you can serve another person that might tangibly make their life better? Who is God leading you to bless with a concrete act of service?

Daily scripture readings:
Suggested scripture readings for each day of the week.

  • Monday 10/29/18 – Matthew 12:14-23
  • Tuesday 10/30/18 – Matthew 20:20-28
  • Wednesday 10/31/18 – Matthew 23:5-12
  • Thursday 11/01/18 – John 13:3-17
  • Friday 11/02/18 – Galatians 5:13-16
  • Saturday 11/03/18 – Matthew 25:31-46

Post-Sermon Update on 10/30

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

If you’re reading the daily scriptures listed above, today’s text is Matthew’s version of the text on which this sermon was based. Take a moment to explore their similarities and differences. A major difference is who asks Jesus the core question. A major similarity is the request for power.

James and John (and their mother, in Matthew’s text) likely knew what power, privilege, and importance looked like. If scholars are correct that Zebedee’s family were persons of privilege, this doesn’t make them bad people. It simply means that they had to choose how to use the privilege that their culture had placed on them. Jesus’ lesson helps them to see this. In the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s not about power. It’s about service.

Consider these questions:

  1. Each of us may have experienced some kind of temptation related to power. But Jesus reminds us in verse 43 that “that’s not the way it will be with you.” Jesus said he came to serve rather than be served, and ultimately gave his life. In what specific ways does living like Jesus change your approach to life?
  2. In Mark 10:30 and Matthew 20:23, Jesus tells James and John that they would eventually drink from his cup. What do you think this meant, and how did they do it? (Note: see Acts 12)
  3. There’s a Country song called, “What if She’s an Angel” that asks us to reconsider how we see people who are in the most need and how we treat those people. Jesus consistently notices people in the margins and people in need. In what ways can you sense God reshaping your attitudes toward “the least of these” in your community and the wider world?