I’m taking a few weeks to focus on the habits of leaders. Naturally, we think about the typical spiritual disciplines. But I think there are other habits like taking time to read, listen, think, and being generous, that are often overlooked.
Today, I want to focus on serving at the pleasure of others.
For most of 17 years, Chris and I led our church’s 13-week Marriage Preparation Class. We had a great team of teachers, mentors, and others helping put on the class. It was a singular privilege for us to be involved in setting the trajectory of some 1700 couples taking that class over those years.
Maybe once a year, we shared about our work with the class in a newsletter. Many of our ministry partners saw it as an interesting sidelight to our ministry. But aside from presenting the gospel to the whole class during each course, there was little to put on a ministry report. We were, in a fact, serving another ministry outside of our own.
This fact came home to me in a very tangible way. We had a long time instructor of a particular topic and we purposed to change the content and teaching approach. To do so meant asking someone else to lead that session. Anticipating that it might be a hard conversation, I was very encouraged when he graciously responded, “I serve at your pleasure.”
I wasn’t always in charge. Like the vast majority of Cru staff, I was new staff once, with two different team leaders in three years. Then I became a team leader in Rhode Island with staff reporting to me over the next eleven years. During that time, Chris and I became active in our church. I taught adult Sunday school classes, led home groups, participated in our worship band, was a governing elder, and even directed the Easter choir musical one year!
At the end of our years in Rhode Island, we moved to our headquarters in Florida and joined the Student LINC team. Chris and I chose to repeat our church experience and got involved in a church in our new community. In this one, over 3000 attended. No teaching adult Sunday school here. The worship band was made up of professionals and had no place for me. But there was a slot teaching a 2 and 3-year-old Sunday school class.
Again, Chris and I chose to serve for two years how and where we were needed…until a former Cru staff asked if we would consider mentoring in their Marriage Preparation Class.
I did not know it at the time, by as I look back, the pattern God used throughout was one in which I learned how to willingly serving others and not just in the areas that benefit the work of our own ministry. God does a valuable work in our hearts when we seek to advance the work of others. The lessons I learned in servant leadership, others-centered service, and collaborative teamwork, were often taught in the classroom of someone else’s authority, serving their purposes, and helping reach their goals. May we develop the habit of serving at the pleasure of others.