“Living the selfless life or reading the latest self-help book?”

In our search for signs of spiritual and emotional maturity in our leaders, don’t bypass the quality which so completely characterized the life of Jesus Christ, the quality of unselfish servant-leadership.

Jesus said in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The apostle Paul added in Philippians 1:4, “Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but the interests of others as well.” Pointing to Jesus as our great example, Paul quickly added, “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had to even the least of these.”

Paul then followed this exhortation with a strong reminder of the humiliation of Christ Who, though being God, very God, emptied Himself by taking on the form of a slave.

There is no question that if we, as Christians, are going to grow and mature into Christ-like character, we must experience progress in giving of ourselves in living for and serving others.

We can and should find comfort and encouragement in Christ. And, when properly understood, that comfort should propel us into servants of the Savior and one another, not to be used for selfish gain.

Servant-living stands opposed to the primary concerns we see today where the focus of our culture and society is more on our own personal happiness and comfort.

This preoccupation with self today is readily seen in slogans like, “Be all you can be,” or “Live up to your potential,” or “Experience your best life now.” The list of self-help books seems endless. While many of these books may contain biblical truth or genuine help in dealing with certain problems, they are never a substitute for servant-living.

The message, whether explicit or implicit, suggests the prime goal we should be pursuing is our own comfort rather than growing in the character and quality of the life of our Savior.

Simply put, our modern-day society, and this includes a great number of Christians, is focused on making satisfaction its goal, indeed, its religion. There is much more concern for self-fulfillment than for pleasing God and truly serving Him and others as seen in the life of Jesus.

The enormous number of how-to-books, YouTube videos, seminars and far too many sermon series, are aimed at directing us to more successful relationships, realizing one’s potential, experiencing more thrills each day, whipping ourselves into shape, improving our diet and managing our money.

Again, while many of these things are important and have their place, it does take the focus off what is truly the heart of God and the Christian faith.

The basis of our faith is knowing and loving God. Only out of that kind of resource and relationship can we live as servants in the power of the Spirit according to the example of Christ.

It was that kind of lifestyle that attracted the multitudes to the humble Carpenter from Nazareth who became the Savior of all mankind. Living that same lifestyle will attract many who desperately need to meet Him, to you.