SLAVERY TO SERVANTSHIP TO SUCCESS

(September 15, 2022) S. Sam Selva Raj shares about a Godly leader and challenges us whether Christian churchgoer or leader…

After Moses’ death, Joshua became leader of Israel in his place. Joshua 1:1 refers to him as a mere servant of Moses, but Joshua 24:29 says that he was a servant of the Lord!

God’s timing
God permitted Joshua to be the servant of another and later made him His own. Joshua means ‘The Lord is salvation’ and his mission in life was to possess the land which the Lord promised the Israelites.

Joshua was not born into a rich family – he was born to a slave in Egypt. But God exalted him when he was eighty years-old and gave him leadership authority and, as it were, the keys to heaven!

Out of a burning bush God had called Moses. When Saul was on his way to Damascus, he heard a voice calling, ‘Saul, Saul…’ Joshua was neither called by name nor had any vision or sign. But God made him assistant of Moses who taught him about the Lord, and he received God’s power through listening to an old man, and being obedient to him.

Joshua’s heart was open to hear the word of God and be obedient. He would achieve much for God. But… it all took time.

Learn something here! When you obey God’s word you will enjoy His blessings… but note that God does things at the right time, His time. We expect everything to happen fast. Our speediness and God’s timing don’t always agree, consequently delays can happen while lessons are learned.

When such things happen, it doesn’t mean that God has forgotten us. We should humble ourselves in His mighty hand. Then God will bless you and you will get back all that you have lost!

Psalm 113:7-8 is encouraging: ‘He (God) raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap…’ When God raises someone from slavery, from poverty and from ‘the dust’ or ‘ash heap’ He makes him or her stand tall. Joshua was transformed into a conqueror and a judge for many years. Let’s learn from Joshua’s servant example. He was a –

1.  Servant with positive faith
If God has to perform some supernatural deed, we must believe in His word and in His promises and be positive. Numbers 13 tells that Moses sent twelve spies to see if the land of Canaan was suitable for living. On returning, they reported that while the land was good, people living there were strong and of great stature. Ten pronounced that it was impossible to go there, to take the land. But the other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, didn’t agree and brought a positive report!

With faith in God and His word, Joshua declared that ‘… He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us… And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them… the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them’ (Numbers 14:6-9).

This is an example of the positiveness of Joshua… who believed in a positive God! We too must be positive in these trying times.

When our original church building was old and dilapidated, we had no finance to mend it. Conducting  the worship service was difficult… but we believed God to do everything for us – positive words of belief came to us: ‘In six months’ time, a church will be built, a press will be functioning – the building will be made beautiful.’

Did we have any funds? Did anyone promise to donate? Did anyone give money? No! But  we started the work with positive faith, believing His promise and our needs were met. The building rose up from the dust as promised  at the right time. A beautiful tall church building is standing here in Chennai, opposite Chepauk Cricket Stadium!

The Lord will provide as you move ahead in faith, tears will vanish, difficult times will pass away… the Lord will see  to it!

2. Willing, responsible assistant
Joshua was the  faithful assistant of Moses. If you wish the Lord should bless you, there must be a spirit of service. Only such people are exalted to high positions.

When you think about great national leaders, you may  conclude that they achieved their position easily. But if you look into their lives, you will realise that most of them achieved their position with much difficulty. Honouring their sacrifice, God raised them. Whatever God says, He will fulfill. The wise Solomon acknowledged this in 2 Chronicles 6:4NLT, ‘Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept the promise He made to my father, David.’

Regarding willingness to serve, Jesus made this statement… ‘Whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant’ (Matthew 20:27MKJV). In other words, if you are called to be someone of importance, first be willing to serve in some way.

These are those today wanting to become great preachers and leaders. But they are not willing to be trained under a good servant of God, who leads a mature spiritual life! Without really knowing the true stages in spiritual life, many want to be known as Reverend, Doctor, Bishop, Pastor, Gifted Man (or Woman) of God, International Speaker and the like. Such people quickly get entangled in some temptation, difficulties, or suffering and lose their spirituality!

It is so profitable to learn from a holy and spiritual servant of God, comprehend his noble character, habits, and Godly nature, and follow those good qualities. I would share personally here from my own experience of becoming a minister of the Lord: While serving the late Pastor S. Devadason, I learned the following three good qualities.

(a) Punctuality:
Any work has to be done in the right time under the principle of ‘Priority.’ Whenever we go to do something, even a simple visit, we should keep in mind possible hindrances such as traffic blocks, and heavy rain or windstorms. So we need to leave early! We should never be late for any appointment, including workplace and church. If late we could face failures.

(b) Responsibility:
Even simple work should be carried out responsibly. People who hold responsible positions must keep in mind the needs of those depending on them –

  • Whatever we do, we must use our utmost knowledge and intelligence.
  • We must do everything with confidence using our efficiency and knowledge, and God’ supernatural assistance.

For example, some don’t check what they themselves have done. Some are least bothered about their work. They  think, ‘If those above me are skillful enough to find out my mistakes, I can correct them later.’ This is a dangerous trend. We must have the conscience to do everything correctly. If anything happens to go wrong we must feel ashamed of it and guard that such things won’t repeat.

(c) Involvement:
Every duty has to be performed with a personal touch. If you think, ‘This isn’t my work; this is not my personal property; I’m not concerned about the success of this endeavour’ you are sure to be a failure.

You may be a sweeper or a person holding a high position in an organisation. Instead of simply performing tasks for duty’s sake, you must show interest in your work and do it with real involvement, putting your heart and soul into it. Then you will rise high in your life.

3. Respectful obedient servant
Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8-15). Moses told Joshua to take some men and fight with the Amalek. Obeying the command of Moses, Joshua immediately entered the battlefield (v10).

There are many people who do not obey their superiors or God Himself! Only those who are obedient to their superiors, and to God, can become good leaders, hold and exercise authority.

Joshua respected authority. When Moses asked him to go to war, he did so straightaway. He didn’t say that he had no training to be a soldier and try to escape from the work given to him. He immediately obeyed. God is the great enabler, beyond our imagination!

4. Lover of God’s presence
Joshua was a good leader who loved the Lord… and His dwelling place. Before construction of the actual tabernacle began (Exodus 35), Moses had pitched his tent outside the camp and it became known as the ‘tent of meeting’ (Exodus 33:7). Why was it so named? It was there that God came down in the cloudy pillar and ‘spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend’ (Exodus 33:11).

Some translations, such as NKJV, LITV, TLB and MKJV, name this sacred tent the tabernacle, which wasn’t built until later. Nevertheless, we should note Joshua’s delight to remain in that old tent, the tabernacle’s precursor, after Moses had departed – ‘…Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle’ (Exodus 33:11MKJV).

God exalts those who love the church and its various ministries. Leaders should  encourage their people to attend  church as God loves its gatherings. I encourage Christians to choose a faithful church and take part in its activities!

In today’s world, some do not have the will to gather and worship in the church. Sometimes even famous servants of God do not encourage people go to church! But we should as and when we are able!

5. Firm Decision Maker
At  crucial times, Joshua made major decisions. God wants us to make good, wise decisions – and follow through on them. We must be firm in deciding and sticking to it. God exalts such people.

Joshua asked the congregation of  the people of Israel to worship the Lord alone and set himself as an example; ‘… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15). God is looking for people who are strong and make decisions boldly, and stand by Him and His word.

Moreover, people who receive God’s revelation should challenge others without feeling ashamed or think of repercussions, and show people the way to serve the Lord.

These days many Christians themselves, never mind ministries, are without a vision, a call, faith… and without sound teaching. Hence believers who don’t have a firm standing with God and a knowledge of His word and ways are on the increase – ‘hangers-on’ as mentioned in Dr Winter’s article (No Sloppy Living Please).

Challenge
If God’s desire is to ‘raise you up from the dust’ and use you in some ministry, do not think of think of monetary benefits, rather live your life depending on God. Be clear and true in your faith.

Indeed, we should all live a holy life as taught by Christ, because the world is going from bad to worse every day. Be a firm decision-maker like Joshua… firmly decide to help set people free from dangerous worldly evils. Your own life will be completely transformed and God will bless you and use you!

Be encouraged by Psalm 113:7-8 above.

  • Put God first and know Him and His ways
  • Listen to your pastor’s Bible-based teachings
  • Be willing to serve others.

And above all, serve God! He alone knows the future and how you can assist in His work!

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Dr S Sam Selva Raj founded Echo of His Call church and ministries, Chennai. For over 50 years he has established and overseen many community outreaches blessing thousands, ably assisted by son Alex Samson Raj, as are Nehemiah Bible College, St  Paul’s Matriculation School, Echo of His Call – India’s National Spiritual Newspaper printed monthly in 16 languages, and post/online Bible correspondence and theological courses. Links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com
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2 comments

  1. An excellent meditation with challenging thoughts for those of us in a position of leadership. Someone has said, ‘True success is not stepping into the shoes of the person above you, it is washing the feet of the person below you.’

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