Servants Riding, Princes Walking
By Richard Lucas
“There is an evil which I have seen… I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.” (Ecclesiastes 10:5,7)
Without trying to defend or give reasons why a servant might need to ride while a prince chooses to walk, Solomon labeled it an evil. This judgment may seem hard to us. Certainly it is not wrong for a prince to humble himself, coming down to the level of the people. However, for a servant to exalt himself and seek to ride like a prince at the same time that a prince is humbling himself and coming down to the level of the common people is evil!
Jesus said, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them…. But so shall it not be among you” (Mark 10:42-43). The Lord went on to explain that among His people, godly leaders would be marked by an attitude of servitude.
This principle is obnoxious to our flesh. However, it is still God’s way. In fact it is the only way we can truly have God’s blessing on our ministry (Luke 14:11; I Peter 5:5-6). In our modern terminology, the “lords” (literally “masters”) would equate to top-level management personnel, company presidents, and owners. They are the bosses. Servants are the common workers.
Peter instructed pastors: “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (I Peter 5:3). Again we are admonished to view our role as leaders as being servants, not lords. That is, we are fellow workers under our master, the Lord Jesus.
The Servant Attitude
A fellow minister whom I greatly love and admire said, “I’m not a servant of God, I’m a son.” While I understand the principle relative to our privilege and position in Christ, I do not find this spirit manifested by any of the writers of the New Testament. The apostles Paul (Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Titus 1:1) and Peter (II Peter 1:1) did not seem at all troubled to refer to themselves as a “servant of God” or “servant of Christ Jesus.” Even the brothers of our Lord, James and Jude, referred to themselves not as brother or sons but as servants (James 1:1; Jude 1).
Sometimes people brag that if they were not living for God they would surely be quite prominent in business, music, or some other field. The truth is that without God most of us would have been nobodies and nothings (I Corinthians 1:26-31). God called us and then gave us gifts and abilities to enable us to accomplish the work He called us to do.
There is a great joy in being a servant. I am not the Savior, but I am a servant of the Savior. The field is His. The sinners I am trying to reach are all people He loves. They are all people He died for, was buried for, and rose again for. It is not my church, but His. It is not my body, but His. His knowledge, wisdom, and power are infinite. So also is His love for me and for them. He will surely train me, direct me, empower me, and give me every thing I need to accomplish His will. His will is the salvation of souls.
The Danger in Being a Servant
A great danger is associated with being a servant. The Master has put in our hands the abilities and everything necessary for accomplishing His plan. We have the time, the finances, the power, and the ability with God’s help to accomplish His perfect will.
However, if a servant takes his master’s goods and begins to use them for his own pleasure and profit rather than for the master, he is going to get himself in trouble. The servant’s time is not his own, but his master’s. If he neglects the master’s work and begins to use that time for pleasure or for his own profit, the master will surely judge him.
Paul admonished, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Timothy 2:3-4).
Too many workers are not effective in spiritual warfare because they are too entangled in the affairs of this world. We need to sing from our hearts with saints of old, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.”
Sometimes we spend too much time doing what Jesus said not to do and too little time doing what He told us to do. He told us, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor yet. .. what ye shall put on” (Matthew 6:25). He also said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth” (Matthew 6:19). Yet these are the very things we often spend much of our time on. Jesus commanded, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). How much time are we honestly spending on this task?
For many years Sam Walton was the richest man in America and some said in the entire world. Yet even after becoming a multibillionaire he continued to live in a modest ranch-style home and drive an old pickup truck. He could easily have lived in sumptuous elegance. However, he seemed to enjoy using his wealth to benefit his community, with vast amounts going to various charities and helpful projects. He also sought to benefit the people who worked for his corporation with extensive training and benefit packages. His greatest drive, though, seemed to be making his stores a service to the common people. The vast amount of money he could have spent on himself was channeled rather for the benefit of others and to extend the company. He was certainly a “prince walking.” He was a master or lord who chose to continue working side by side with the servants.
How can we who are servants, especially we in the ministry, dare to try to live like lords (masters or bosses, executives, company presidents)? Do we not understand that
it is evil to use our Lord’s resources, given us to accomplish His work, to build ourselves executive mansions and drive about in the fanciest chariots while His work is neglected? We need to move out of the executive mansions and back into the servant’s quarters. We need to stop trying to drive about looking like lords and seek to do the work He has called us to do.
This does not mean that we should not use the finest leadership principles. It is not a call to slipshod, lazy methods. If anyone should be diligent in seeking and using the most effective means for planning, organizing, and accomplishing objectives it should be us. Our work is the greatest work for the greatest cause with the greatest potential for the greatest success. It deserves everything we have.
God Will Judge Selfish Shepherds
There is no stronger rebuke in Scripture than what is recorded in Ezekiel 34. In it God promised judgment on shepherds who feed themselves rather than feeding the sheep. The guilty shepherds had not helped the sick and diseased, had not bound up the broken. They had not sought the lost. This chapter is worth reading to make sure it does not apply to us, because if it does, we are in trouble.
We have a great heritage of sacrifice, commitment, and love for the lost. We dare not turn aside from it and use the Lord’s time and provision to amass to ourselves the trinkets and pleasures of this world while the lost die without even knowing who He is or what He wants to do for them.
Some years ago Brother Wayne Mitchell of Moline, Illinois, was approached by a preacher who wanted to know how much he was being paid. Brother Mitchell, whose church was the fastest growing church in the United Pentecostal Church for ten years in a row, told him he had taken only a modest amount from the church the year before. The preacher retorted, “My church only has seventy people and I already get paid almost three times that.” Brother Mitchell answered, “That’s exactly why you only have seventy and your church isn’t growing. If you’d put some of that money back into the church and get to work, your church would grow.”
My dad never owned a car that was not used to pick up people for church. Time after time I watched Mom and Dad sell almost every thing to go to a new place and start
another church. He would hardly take anything from the church financially because he received a military pension from losing his arm in the war. Rather, he would
invest almost everything he had again and again to see a new work started or to help someone in need. He lived to see souls saved. It was all he cared about.
The favorite song of my wife’s grandmother was “Heaven Holds All to Me.” She passed it to her daughter. Once when my wife and I were taking her mom somewhere we were admiring the beautiful new houses on both sides of the road, saying, “I like that one,” or “Oh, that one is my favorite,” and so on. Suddenly from the back seat came her mom’s clear soprano voice, “I need no mansion here below; Jesus said that I could go to a home beyond the clouds not made with hands. Won’t you come and go along…?” Is it any surprise that we are in missions work? It is all we know.
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord bath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:45-51).
The above material was published by FORWARD, January-March, 1993. This material may be copyrighted and should be used for study and research purposes only.