Serve Your Way to the Bottom

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft and I have been friends since we were 15. When he became Attorney General, I called him and said, “John, your dad would be so proud of you.” His dad was president of Evangel when I worked for him as campus pastor. He was a godly man.

In response, John said to me, “Oh, George, Dad would never use that word ‘proud’, he would say ‘grateful.’”

Whenever I talk about the growth of the Assemblies of God, I remember that story. In the U.S., we find ourselves continually either in the lead or among the leading growing denominations. It’s very humbling. But it’s cause for gratitude, not for pride.

When I’m asked what I attribute this growth to, I think it’s the Holy Spirit at work. I believe, as spirit-empowered believers, we should be on the leading, growing edge, always working on new dreams and new visions. And especially, as leaders, we should always be striving for excellence, always having in sight the next thing to which we need to set our hand.

It starts with a position of gratitude. Gratitude will keep pride in its place.

In Joshua 14:10–11, Caleb proclaims a great word of faith. The name Caleb means “raging with canine madness,” and I just love that about Caleb. He was a mad dog when it came to faith energy. He reminded Joshua and the elders of Israel:

Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! [And then this great expression:] I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then [emphasis added].

I am just as strong today as the day I started in ministry—just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. I believe that unflagging passion for service is meant to describe how we all should function as workers for the Lord.

If you’re promoted to leadership, it should be because you want to lead. The desire to be a leader is nothing to be ashamed of, but the key is that your desire to lead should be married to your desire to be used by God. When you manifest that combination, you’re not driven by ego but by altruism.

Leadership serves from love, not from power. God-ordained leadership upends the world’s triangular model of personal advancement. People of the world try to work their way to the top of the triangle, to the place of power over the subservient masses. Godly leaders serve their way to the bottom. You try to get underneath everyone else to live out Christ’s pronouncement, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

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