“Do you love me?”
Isaiah 42:1-6; 53:4-5, John 21:1-19
April 10th 2016
Introduction: Many years ago now it was my distinct privilege to be a part of a group of pastors from the Atlantic-North East District and Southern Pa. District of the Church of the Brethren. We studied together for a period of about two years around the topic of servant-leadership. Some of our text books included books by Robert K. Greenleaf. One in particular stands out to me as we begin a series of sermons today dealing with the topic of servant-leadership as a part of our renewal emphasis here at York First.
The book is entitled, “On becoming a Servant Leader.” In it Greenleaf identifies in-depth ten characteristics of a servant leader. These characteristics are: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. He says that servant leadership isn’t a destination but rather a path for us to follow and live our lives on. While he does not write from a Christian point of view, what he observes can easily be supported from scripture. Robert K. Greenleaf was a seeker, not of titles or awards or money, but of inner strength!
We have been focusing on renewal as a part of our faith journey together as a community here at York First for sometime now and we are ready to take the next step. We started by talking about the things that are going well for the congregation last October. Our first gathering focused on the strengths of the congregation. Rather than trying to figure out what’s wrong and fix it, we focused on what’s working well and celebrated it!
Then this past February we talked about persons in our lives that have impacted our faith journeys especially people here at Church and just how important community life is for us all. We called it, spiritual appreciation for those who blessed and encouraged our growth in our faith.
Now today we begin looking at what it means to follow the example of our risen lord and savior, Jesus. How he calls his disciples, his followers to servant leadership in their lives and in the lives of the church.
I feel it is appropriate that we are in the post Easter season and that his spirit living in us, helps us follow his example!
Ex. Today, as we begin this series of sermons, we are going to use as our focus the list of servant leadership traits that David Young includes in his book, “Springs of Living Water.” His list is a little different that Robert Greenleaf’s list. David’s list includes: Called and strengthened, Spiritually centered, listening, manner of love, mission, paradoxical expectation, paradoxical outcome, joyful, leads in spiritual transformation, and enters the drama of reconciliation. My hoped for plan is to talk about two these each week for the next 5 weeks that I will be preaching. There will be some special events happening over the course of the next little while here at church, such as Youth Sunday and Mother’s Day, but we will see where the Lord leads me in my preaching to you.
I.) Called and Strengthened
A.) Jesus calls Peter to feed his sheep.
1. Up until this time, Jesus’ sheep are the few disciples who have been with him for the past 3 years.
2. Estimates are 100 or less serious followers.
3. Yes, there were crowds who came out to hear the teacher and see the miracle worker, but they are not serious disciples and followers.
4. This leads us to ask the question, which one are we? A serious disciple or just someone looking for a good show and interesting teaching?
B.) Many people ask the question, what does calling by God mean?
1. Not only that but how does it happen?
2. Let me address the second question first, it happens as the Holy Spirit, that part of God that dwells within us, awakens our sense of needed to fulfill all that God has for us in our lives.
3. For some people there is a moment, a time, an event in their lives when they know that God has spoken to them and that they are “called.”
4. Defining what they are called to is another part of the question.
Ex. Paul states in Ephesians 4:11ff “It was he gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” This is one listing of the offices of the church of Christ Jesus and there are other lists. We may not all have the same office but we are all gifted and called by God for what purpose? The text says, service so that the body of Christ may attain unity in it mission to share the Gospel of God’s love and peace with the whole world. I believe it breaks God’s heart to see Christians broken and hurting because of what we have done to each other. Yes, there is persecution in the world outside the church but we in the church hurt each other as well.
5. Calling means, making yourself available to the activity of God in and through our lives in whatever way God needs us to help fulfill the mission and purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
6. To many people this is a scary thought.
7. What will God get me to do? Preacher, teacher, evangelist, missionary, what?
8. I believe God will not get us to do something that God has not empowered us to do.
Ex. I use my own life as example. I have said it many times and I believe it bears repeating, I never wanted to be a pastor or preacher. I simply made myself available to activity of the Holy Spirit in my life and followed the vision God gave me.
Conclusion to point #1 Called and Strengthened. That is who we are and who we are supposed to be as a community of faith, as a part of the body of Christ Jesus in the world today. Walking in love and fellowship with Jesus and with our sisters and brothers.
II.) This leads me to the second trait of servant leadership for today, Spiritually centered.
A.) In order for Peter to fulfill his calling as the early leader of the Christian church he had to personally be spiritually centered in his own life.
1. Does Jesus do a three fold installation of Peter here in John 21?
2. Many will answer that it is because of Peter’s 3 fold denial of Jesus on the night of his arrest leading up to Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.
3. That is correct, but I would also submit that it emphasizes the seriousness of the calling and the deep need to be spiritually centered in order to fulfill his calling.
4. Peter will need a depth of peace with in himself to do what Jesus is commissioning him to do because it will demand his entire life!
5. We lead from within, from our core and center, we are attuned to the spirits leading in areas of healing, and sacrifice in unselfish ways in order to bring wholeness.
6. Peter had to know and understand this, and so must we as disciples of today.
Ill. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah points out these traits in who the messiah would be. He will bring forth justice. Justice, Godly justice for all of God’s children and all of God’s creation. This will be the hall mark of the messiah of God. The savior of the world and lived out and demonstrated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He is our example and if we will search the depths of our souls with help of the Holy Spirit we too will do the work of reconciliation and justice in the world today. This is how in my mind and heart the resurrected Christ Jesus lives on.
Conclusion to message: Servant leadership is what we are called and equipped or strengthen for. God’s spirit within us, centers us and reveals to us all that we are to be about as God’s people. Are we willing to fulfill all that God has for us? Amen.