“Love is Servant Leadership” – Deuteronomy 17:14-20

November 12th,  2017

Dt 17:14-20

“Love Is Servant Leadership”

Aux Text: Mark 10:35-45

Call to Worship: Psalm 19:7-14


Service Orientation:  Leaders are blessed to be a blessing to their constituents.  God gives safeguards to leaders to inhibit them from becoming proud and selfish.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” — Matthew 20:26-28


Background Information:

  • Originally God was to be the King of Israel, and the judges and priests were to perform the functions of a king on the human side on behalf of God. But Moses knew that one day they would want a human king, and he gives the nation guidelines for the appointing of one.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 447)
  • The paradigm of kingship established in Dt 17:14-20 provides the lens used by deuteronomistic historians and prophets to evaluate Israel’s kings. (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 423)
  • Even the king chosen by God must be careful about the three big symbols of power among kings at that time: war power, women, and wealth. King Solomon started off as a wise king who did not even ask for wealth when he was presented with a choice from God.  But with time he abused his power and became a prey to these three dangers (1 Kgs 10:26-11:8).  How true the adage is that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  History has shown how people who start as good leaders end up doing terrible things after a time in power.  The power brings with it the possibility of meeting desires that others cannot easily meet.  The easy availability of things we desire can lure us into abusing our authority to get them.  Therefore, leaders need to have some checks in place to ensure that this does not happen.  Our passage speaks about some of these things.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 448-9)
  • (v. 16ff) These prohibitions, then, address three major temptations facing ancient rulers: lust for power, lust for status, and lust for wealth.  The text does not prohibit the purchase of horses, or marriage, or the accumulation of some silver and gold.  The threefold repetition of “for himself” emphasizes the ban concerning the king’s exploitation of his office for personal gain.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 419)
  • (v. 16ff) The three restrictions (vv. 16f.) Are remarkable because they quite explicitly cut across the accepted pattern of kingship throughout the ancient Near East. Military power, through the building up of a large chariot force (the point of having great numbers of horses), the prestige of a large harem of many wives (frequently related to international marriage alliances), and the enjoyment of great wealth (large amounts of silver and gold)–these were the defining marks of kings worthy of the title.  Weapons, women, and wealth:  why else be a king?  But Deuteronomy starkly declares, “Not so in Israel.”  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 209)
  • (v. 18) The language in the ESV, NIV, and many other translations suggest that the king himself was to write a copy of the Law for himself. The wording could also yield the interpretation that the king was to get others to do the writing for him (NRSV).  If the ESV and other translations are correct, then the writing itself would have helped drive home into the king’s mind the importance of what the Law contains.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 453)
  • Twice in Matthew we have witnessed God’s own combining of the Messiah being a Conquering King and a Suffering Servant (Mt 3:17; 17:5) “This my Son, whom I love; (Ps 2 – Conquering King) with him I am well pleased (Isa 42 – Suffering Servant).” Jesus Himself combines them in this text (Mt 20:20-28).


The question to be answered is. . What priorities and values does God require of leaders?


Answer:  Leaders are anointed and blessed by God to lead His people to the best possible life.  Leaders are never to use their position of influence for personal gain.


Today, there will more than likely be hundreds of people who will leave the church because someone said something or did something that offended them.   Please NOTE:  Saint Augustine got it right when he said, “The Church is a whore but she is my mother.”   The church has selfish, ignorant and arrogant sinners as her leaders.   But, just like the rest of us believers in Jesus, we are trying to become more and more like Jesus.


The powers of the monarchy, so dominant in the civilizations of the ancient Near East, are greatly circumscribed in Dt 17:14-20.  The belief in sacral kingship, prevalent at Ugarit, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, that a king mediates between the divine and human spheres, is absent from Deuteronomy.  In Deuteronomy the relationship between God and people is primary.  —Gary N. Knoppers  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 538)


Seldom were there any discernible differences between the affluent, heathen trappings of Israel’s and Judah’s monarchies and those of their neighbors–and therein lay their downfall.  Israel could hardly be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation to the people around them if their kingship and their way of life was as indulgent and as corrupt as that of their neighbors.  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 158)


John Maxwell’s favorite leadership proverb, “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 425)


The Word for the Day is . . . Serve


Power is of two kinds.  One is obtained by fear of punishment and the other by the art of love.  Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent. — Mohandas Gandhi



What protective habits does God require of leaders?:

I-  Leaders are to be established and ordained by God however they come to a position of leadership.  (Dt 17:15 see also: 1 Sm 8:5-18; 12:12; Rom 13:1-7)


“There is no power, but of God.”  Therefore, wherever powers exist and flourish, they exist and flourish because God has ordained them.  (Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, 181)


Moses gave Israel a series of four external safeguards to minimize the potential for authoritarian abuse by a king.  If he should violate any of these provisions, his disobedience would be a matter of public scrutiny.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 213)


Israel’s king was to be one of their own (v. 15).  The Bible implies that Israel had at times had “outsiders” either ruling or attempting to oversee Israel.  In the time of the judges there are two references to Samgar (Jdg 3:31; 5:6), whose father was named after a Canaanite goddess–which would seem to indicate that he was not of Israel.  Also during this period before Saul’s kingship, Abimelech reigned for a short time.  Abimelech’s mother was a Shechemite and her relatives made him king, after financing his takeover with money from the temple of Baal-Berith (Jdg 8:30-9:0).  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 212-3)


Remarkably, this text perceives a democratic development, in response to the wishes of the community.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 417)


II-  Leaders are to not trust in things for protection, security and reputation.  (Dt 17:16 see also: 1 Chr 21:1-30; Ps 20:7; 33:17; Isa 31:1; Zach 4:6; )


Having many horses signified either riches or military resources or both.  Doubtless both indicated a reliance on one’s own resources rather than more direct reliance on the Lord.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 117)


When a king amasses the trappings of military power he can get into a false confidence in his abilities and launch into military exercises that are unnecessary–which will drain the kingdom and even result in military defeats.  But most dangerous is the possibility of ceasing to humbly trust in God by trusting in military power.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 449)


The primary use of horses in those days was for war.  Therefore “the acquisition of large numbers of these animals implies either an aggressive foreign policy or a monarch who wishes to impress his people and his neighbors with his wealth and power.”  Going back to Egypt would suggest an alliance in which Israel depends on Egypt for military supplies.  Such alliances proved to be disastrous later in Israel’s history and were condemned by the prophets (Isa 31:1-3; Mic 5:10).  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 449)


III-  Leaders are not to surround themselves with godless influence no matter how advantageous they might appear. (Dt 17:17a see also: 1 Kings 11:1-8; Isa 52:11; 1 Cor 5:9-10; 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14-18; Eph 5:3-11)


Since marriages were often arranged to strengthen alliances, the institution of the harem enabled kings to be allied simultaneously with many outside rulers (cf. 1 Kgs 11:1), while also providing decoration for the court to impress visitors.  But this text seems unconcerned about these considerations.  Instead, Moses the pastor views the harem as a threat to spiritual fidelity to Yahweh:  The women will turn the king’s heart away.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 419)


The ban on having a foreigner as king is doubtless for the same reasons as the ban on marriage or any kind of alliance with the Canaanites, namely, the threat of apostasy and idolatry (cf. 7:2-4).  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 209)


The forbidding of many wives was given because kings often married foreign women to form political alliances.  If the king was in partnership with God, however, he would not need political alliances.  A political marriage alliance would be a deviation from the one and only true treaty of the Israelite state, namely, their covenant with the Lord.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 213)


Marriage was used as a tool of diplomacy in the ancient Near East, and kings would give their “daughters to cement alliances and establish treaties with his neighboring kingdoms.”  Though there may be political advantages to such marriages, the sad case of Solomon’s wives introducing the worship of other gods shows the peril of this course of action for Jewish kings (1 Kgs 11:4-8).  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 450)


Often the Christian who marries a non-Christian is either led away to a life of compromise or to relative inactivity in God’s service.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 450)


Gleason Archer says, “As we examine the scriptural record, we come to the realization that every case of polygamy or concubinage amounted to a failure to follow God’s original model and plan.”  It seems to have been a practice common among neighboring countries that was tolerated in Israel until the people fully understood that it was against God’s plan for marriage.  We must also bear in mind that polygamy was not widely practiced in Israel.  It was only the wealthy (for example, kings) who could afford it.  In fact, it was a sign of wealth in those days.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 450)


IV-  Leaders are not to trust in or seek money but only God.  (Dt 17:17b see also: 1 Kgs 10:14-29; Isa 2:7-9; Mt 6:19-33; 1 Pt 5:1-3)


The commands against multiplying possessions were designed to reduce the king to the status of a servant totally dependent upon his Master–in this case, the Lord.  The resulting tragedy of ignoring these commands is seen in the life of Solomon, who broke all three prohibitions (1 Kgs 10:14-15, 23, 26-28; 11:1-6).  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 213)


The proscription on excessive accumulation of silver and gold is shorthand for wealth and opulence.  In the ancient Near Eastern political world, this wealth was generally amassed at the expense of the people by taxing the citizens and demanding tribute from subject states.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 419)

Supreme leadership in Israel, and, for that matter, the whole structure of government for Israel, rests on the idea of theocracy; the Lord, not man, was their leader.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 116)


Wealth is to be accumulated strictly for doing works of mercy and spreading the kingdom.  Wealth is not to be stored up “for yourselves (Mt 6:19-21).  (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, p. 72)


When wealth is lost, nothing is lost.  When health is lost something is lost.  When character is lost, everything is lost.  —Billy Graham  (Harold Myra; The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham, 63)


How sad that we have heard so many stories of Christian leaders who took money from poor but generous people to live ostentatious lives!  How easy it is to take money trustingly given for “our work” and use it for ourselves.  How easy it is to have high expense accounts by staying and eating at places that our donors themselves could never afford to enter.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 452)


Moses reins in temptations to abuse the office by proscribing greed and ambition (vv. 16-17) and by prescribing an extraordinary spiritual and ethical standard for the king (vv. 18-20).  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 418)


V-  Leaders are to humbly discipline themselves to “fear the Lord” by securing, daily consulting and submitting to God’s Word.  (Dt 17:18-19 see also: 1 Sm 13:14; 2 Kgs 22:3-20; ; Ps 1; 19:7-14; 119; 1 Tm 3:1-13; 4:13-16; 2 Tm 3:16-17; Ti 1:6-9; Heb 4:12; )


God desired the king’s (and Israel’s) security to be connected not with the accumulation of armies or financial reserves but with a strong inner loyalty to Yahweh.  To emphasize this point, Moses instructed that each new king, in the aftermath of his coronation, should write for himself on a scroll a copy of God’s law.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 214)


It seems very difficult for any human being who reaches a position of high authority to avoid arrogance, and the Bible would not disagree with Acton’s adage that “power corrupts”; verse 20 indeed says as much, but a remedy is offered in vv. 18-19.  The remedy is at the same time physical and spiritual:  the king is to get hold of “a copy of this law” ie the Deuteronomic law code, and keep it beside him; and by constantly reading it, he is to master its contents and so “learn to fear the Lord.”  (David F. Payne, The Daily Study Bible Series: Dt, 106)


By reciting the law the king will learn to “fear Yahweh,” which is expected of every Israelite.  Here, as elsewhere, fearing Yahweh will result in doing the commandments.  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 542)


The Greeks considered humility to be the lowest virtue; Jesus made it the highest.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 398)


By the act of copying the Torah, the king declared his spiritual subordination to the priests and to the Torah, the symbol of the covenant that bound Yahweh and Israel.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 20)


The king must wear the Torah.  Although it may never be treated merely as a good luck charm, the charge “it is to be with him” suggests that like an amulet, the Torah was to accompany the king constantly, providing a written reminder of his personal vassal status before Yahweh and his primary role as model of covenant righteousness.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 420)


Noteworthy here is that Israel’s king is made subject to divine law.  He must learn and obey the law just like any other Israelite.  In other ANE societies the king is the lawgiver; in Israel the lawgiver is Yahweh.  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 541)


A well-ordered life is the fruit of a well-ordered mind.  The life of the leader should reflect the beauty and orderliness of God. (J. Oswald Sanders; Spiritual Leadership – Principles of Excellence for Every Believer, 41)


In God’s view, the primary qualifications for kingship were moral and spiritual rather than diplomatic skills or military prowess.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 214)


The regulations for the officials function in part, as we have seen, to show that Israel is to be distinct from the other nations at the precise point of kingship.  If the law of the land is not to be framed by the king as a typical ANE royal administration, then what is the basis of the constitution to be?  The answer is the Torah.  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 295)


It is particularly important for kings and Christian leaders to stay close to the Bible as their job is to lead people to God’s ways.  So they must know God’s ways, and the best way to gain this knowledge is from the Scriptures.  Christians who are leaders in non-ecclesiastical organizations also need to stay close to the Bible because they are Christians first, and their Christianity influences all they do in their leadership role.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 453)


Functionally and for the sake of the ministry, godly leaders may be perceived as above their peers, but they must acknowledge their subordination to God and to the people.  Like the king in Moses’ paradigm, leaders of God’s people will read the Word of God for their own nurture and discipline, knowing that God holds them accountable for their personal conduct.  Significantly, our text says nothing about administrative gifts or persuasive talent.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 425)


Spiritual leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda. (Henry & Richard Blackaby; Spiritual Leadership; Moving People on to God’s Agenda, 20)


If Jesus provides the model for spiritual leadership, then the key is not for leaders to develop visions and to set the direction for their organizations.  The key is to obey and to preserve everything the Father reveals to them of His will.  Ultimately, the Father is the leader.   (Henry Blackaby;  Spiritual Leadership, 29)


VI-  Leaders promote longevity, security and prosperity for their constituents when they see themselves as public servants.  (Dt 17:20 see also: 2 Sm 5:9-12; 1 Kgs 12:1-17; 1 Chr 14:2; 2 Chr 10:6-7; Jer ch 23; Ez ch 34;  Mt 20:20-28; 23:11; Mk 9:35; 10:35-45; ; Lk 22:24-27; Jn 5:30; 2 Cor 11:28; Phil 2:1-11; 1 Tm 3:1-7)


In the Bible responsible headship is never about power or privilege; it is always about securing the well-being of those under one’s charge.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 425)



As the leaders go, so go the people.  Camelot is the responsibility of the king.  (Stu Weber; Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart, 68)


Do you want to be “great”?  Then you need to be a “servant” (diakonos)–that is, wait tables, serve others.  Do you want to not just be “great” but to be “first” (the first among the greats)?  Then you need to be a “slave” (doulos)–that is, someone “who has no right or existence on his own, who lives solely for others.”  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 571)


“The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.”  — D. L. Moody


The true leader is concerned primarily with the welfare of others, not with his own comfort or prestige.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, 125)


As the Word humbles us constantly, we will not fall into the trap into which many leaders fall.  They think they are superior to others who live and work with them.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 454-5)



The one who treats me well is my leader; the one who treats me cruelly is my enemy. (Chinese Proverb)


Leaders who promote the idea that, “You can’t make it without me” are not godly leaders but tyrants.   Real godly, spiritual leadership is working to allow you to be free; to be all God created and designed you to be as one in His image and likeness.— Pastor Keith



A church leader who has to assert his authority doesn’t have much. (Dr. Lynn Anderson; They Smell Like Sheep,  33)



People prefer to follow those who help them, not those who intimidate them.  —C. Gene Wilkes  (Dr. Lynn Anderson; They Smell Like Sheep, 58)



“What good is all our knowledge if it does not affect the lives of the people among whom God has  placed us?”   And in reverse, and yet similar in nature is the popular phrase, “people don’t care  how much you know until they know how much you care.”  (Thom Schultz; Why nobody learns much of anything at church, 32)



Some wise elders advised a young king with these words:  “If you love this people and serve them, they will love you and follow you forever.”  (Lauire Beth Jones; Jesus CEO, Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, 253 – see 2 Chr 10:6-7)


Asked how he succeeded so long as the president of the University of Michigan, Dr. James R. Angell advised, “Grow antennae, not horns.” (Leadership…with a human touch, 11/13/01, 13)


The church has never been without self-seeking leaders who capture the fascination of the people who willingly follow them while they make merchandise of the gospel in order to feather their nests and build up their reputations.  By telling people what they like to hear (2 Tm 4:3), they skillfully take advantage of selfish, gullible believers.  (John MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Mt 16-23, 239)


A heart turned away from God is often a heart turned away from people.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 214)


As the great commentator R. C. H. Lenski has observed, God’s “great men are not sitting on top of lesser men, but bearing lesser men on their backs.”  (John MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Mt 16-23, 240)


“We teach what we know, but reproduce what we are.” —John Maxwell  (Dr. Lynn Anderson; They Smell Like Sheep, 100)


Von Rad observes correctly, “Deuteronomy sees in kingship not an office which Yahweh could use for the welfare of the people, but only an institution in which the holder must live in a sphere of extreme peril because he is tempted by his harem or his wealth either to turn away from Yahweh or ‘to lift up his heart above his brethren.’”  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 214)


Apart from “king,” the only epithet Israel’s monarch may claim is “brother” of his people.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 422)


It is imperative that leaders submit themselves to being accountable to others.  They will need to voluntarily do this because often others will not require this of them.  Friends see the folly of some of our actions that we may not see when we are blinded by desire.  They would advise us against such actions.  This function was particularly performed by the prophets of Israel.  It has been said that David and Josiah were good kings because they had prophets and priests to warn and instruct them.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 455)


The royal power is here circumscribed within certain limits, lest it should exalt itself too much in reliance on the glory of its dignity.  For we know how insatiable are the desires of kings, inasmuch as they imagine that all things are lawful to them.  Therefore, although the royal dignity may be splendid, God would not have it to be the pretext of unrestrained power, but restricts and limits it to legal bounds.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. II, 96)


Worship Point:  Worship the God of the Universe Who in His wisdom knows how to groom leaders so they might lead their constituents to peace and prosperity.   (Ps 23; 100; Jn 10:27-28)


What matters fundamentally for Deuteronomy is whether or not the whole covenant people of Israel will remain wholly loyal to Yahweh their God.  The value of a king is assessed solely by the extent to which he will help or hinder that loyalty.  A king who will trust not in God but in his own defenses (cf. 3:21f.); a king whose heart turns away because of many wives (cf. 7:3f.); a king whose great wealth leads to the snares of pride (cf. 8:13f.)–such a king will quickly lead the people in the same disastrous directions.  History proves the point with depressing regularity, as the Deuteronomistic historians show.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 209)


If American doesn’t rediscover and begin electing TRUE PUBLIC SERVANTS the end of America as we know it will come much too soon. “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.  —Alexander Tyler

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years.  During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From Bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependence;

From dependence back into bondage.”

Citation is doubted.  But, the contents remain true non the less.   However, there is no record of The Fall of the Athenian Republic or The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic in the Library of Congress, which has several other titles by Tyler. This quote has also been cited as being from Tyler’s Universal History or from his Elements of General History, Ancient and Modern, books that do exist. These books seem the most likely source of the quote, as they contain extensive discussions of the political systems in historic civilizations, including Athens. Universal History was published after, and based upon, Elements of General History, which was a collection of Professor Tyler’s lecture notes.


Gospel Application:  Jesus came and modeled for us perfect, servant leadership when He came and died for his people.  He was the only one qualified to save them. (Mt 20:20-28; Mk 10:45; Lk 22:27; Jn 5:30; 13:1-17; Phil 2:1-11; 1 Tm 1:15)


You can only be like Jesus when you have the heart of Jesus.  And you can only have the heart of Jesus when you die to your own agenda and will and make Jesus’s agenda and will your own.  —Pastor Keith


Although Israel’s kings left a grim record of idolatry, greed, and disobedience, the Lord wanted the office of king to be a rich foreshadowing of the perfect reign of the coming Messiah.  He would arise from Israel, one of their brothers.  He would be mighty yet humble, a true Servant King.  He would be unmoved by pleasure or treasure, determined to obey the Father’s will.  What a magnificent picture of the perfect kingship of the Savior, our brother and our Lord.  He came not to be served but to serve (Mk 10:45).  He didn’t seek to please himself but the one who sent him (Jn 5:30).  He came into the world not for his own comfort or reputation, but to save sinners (1 Tm 1:15).  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 159)


The title Jesus used for Himself, “the Son of Man,” highlights in a significant way His identification with us as men.  As a man, He was able to sympathize with us in our suffering (Heb 4:15), and He was qualified as a sacrificial substitute for sinners (Rom 8:3).  When He spoke of the cup that He would drink (Mt 20:22), He was speaking of drinking down the wrath of God in the place of sinners.  Jesus willingly walked into the jaws of suffering and death on our behalf.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition–Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 271)


Only once in all the recorded words of Jesus did our Lord announce that He would provide an “example” for the disciples, and then He washed their feet (Jn 13:15).  Only once in the rest of the NT does a writer offer an “example” (1 Pt 2:21), and that is an example of suffering.  Serving and suffering are paired in the teaching and life of our Lord.  One does not come without the other.  And what servant is greater than the Lord?  (J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, 23)


The only true and enduring motivation for the ministry of mercy is an experience and a grasp of the grace of God in the gospel.  If we know we are sinners saved by grace alone, we will be both open and generous to the outcasts and the unlovely.  (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 58)


Something is wrong if you can’t serve the Lord with gladness.  I can understand why the person who serves God only out of obligation doesn’t serve with gladness.  I can understand why the person who serves God in an attempt to earn his way to Heaven doesn’t serve with gladness.  But the Christian who gratefully acknowledges what God has done for him for eternity should be able to serve God cheerfully and with joy.  (Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 113-4)


Paul describes his service to God with these words in Col 1:29:  “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”  The word labor means to work to the point of exhaustion, while from the Greek word translated “struggling” comes our word agonize.  So for Paul to serve God was “to agonize to the point of exhaustion.”  That doesn’t mean it was miserable toil; in fact, the reason Paul worked so hard was because the only thing he loved more than serving God was God Himself.  God supplies us with the power to serve Him.  We struggle in service “with all his energy, which so powerfully works” in us.  True ministry is never forced out by the flesh.  But the result of His power working mightily in us is “labor.”  (Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 119-20)


The people of God do not serve Him in order to be forgiven but because we are forgiven.  When believers serve only because they feel guilty if they don’t, it’s as though they serve with a ball and chain dragging from their ankles.  There’s no love in that kind of service, only labor.  There’s no joy, only obligation and drudgery.  But Christians aren’t prisoners who should serve in God’s Kingdom grudgingly because of guilt.  We can serve willingly because Christ’s death freed us from guilt.  (Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 115)


In Christ we find the answer to two ego problems of leadership.  The first is fear, the sense of inadequacy, “I’m not good enough or strong enough to be a leader!  Sinful pride can make us shrink back from responsibility.

The second and opposite temptation is the power-hungry self-wanting to lord it over others.  Sinful pride can, in fact, make us want to be puffed up and to exalt ourselves.”  (Leighton Ford; Transforming Leadership, 33)


I overheard someone talking about their class at Hillsdale College today (11-7-17) and the professor said that a benevolent Monarchy is the best possible government one can live under except for the chaos that ensues when that good and kind king dies.   If you could find a benevolent Monarchy in which the king never died, that would be the best possible government you could live under.  Guess what!


Fenelon – “We refuse ourselves to God, who only wants to save us.  We give ourselves up to the world, which only wants to tyrannize over us and destroy us.”


Real spiritual leaders love their people as they are but far too much to allow them to stay where they are.  —Pastor Keith


Spiritual Challenge:  Live the life of a servant leader.  But, please don’t gripe and complain when you are treated like a servant.  (Jn 21:15-23)


The cost of true greatness is humble, selfless, sacrificial service.  The Christian who desires to be great and first in the kingdom is the one who is willing to serve in the hard place, the uncomfortable place, the lonely place, the demanding place, the place where he is not appreciated and may even be persecuted.  Knowing that time is short and eternity long, he is willing to spend and be spent.  He is willing to work for excellence without becoming proud, to withstand criticism without becoming bitter, to be misjudged without becoming defensive, and to withstand suffering without succumbing to self-pity.  (John MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 243)


Love is a giving away of power.  When we love, we give the other person the power in the relationship.  They can do what they choose.  They can do what they like with our love.  They can reject it, they can accept it, they can step toward us in gratitude and appreciation.

Love is a giving away.  When we love, we put ourselves out there, we expose ourselves, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

Love is giving up control.  It’s surrendering the desire to control the other person.  The two–love and controlling power over the other person–are mutually exclusive.  If we are serious about loving someone, we have to surrender all of the desires within us to manipulate the relationship.  (Rob Bell; Sex God, 98)


The world may assess people’s greatness by the number of people whom they control and who are at their beck and call; or by their intellectual standing and their academic eminence; or by the number of committees of which they are members; or by the size of their bank balances and the material possessions which they have amassed; but in the assessment of Jesus Christ these things are irrelevant.  His assessment is quite simply; how many people have they helped?  (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible–Volume Two, 272)


Greatness is determined by servanthood.  The true leader places his or her needs last, as Jesus exemplified in his life and in his death.  Being a “servant” did not mean occupying a servile position; rather, it meant having an attitude of life that freely attended to others’ needs without expecting or demanding anything in return.  Seeking honor, respect, and the attention of others runs contrary to Jesus’ requirements for his servants.  An attitude of service brings true greatness in God’s kingdom.  Jesus described leadership from a new perspective.  Instead of using people, we are to serve them.  Jesus’ mission was to serve others and to give his life away.  A real leader has a servant’s heart.  Servant leaders appreciate others’ worth and realize that they’re not above any job.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 398)


We all like to be called servants until we are treated like one.  (Mark Devers; 5 Keys to Spiritual Growth)


“The place of suffering in service and of passion in mission is hardly ever taught today.  But the greatest single secret of evangelistic or missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die.  It may be a death to popularity (by faithfully preaching the unpopular biblical gospel), or to pride (by the use of modest methods in reliance on the Holy Spirit), or to racial and national prejudice (by identification with another culture), or to material comfort (by adopting a simple lifestyle).  But the servant must suffer if he is to bring light to the nations, and the seed must die it if is to multiply.”  (John R. W. Stott; The Cross of Christ, 322)


The surest mark of the true servant is willing sacrifice for the sake of others in the name of Christ.  The sham servant avoids suffering, while the true servant accepts it.  (John MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Mt 16-23, 241)


When they’re willing to serve without regard for the response, then I know they’re beginning to move in the love of God.  (Steve Sjogren, Conspiracy of Kindness, 115)


If you put any conditions on your service to Christ (“I will serve you if”) then you are not really serving Christ at all but it is yourself you are serving.  —Tim Keller


True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.  (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 64)


To aspire to leadership in God’s kingdom requires us to be willing to pay.  The toll of true leadership is heavy, and the more effective the leadership, the higher it goes.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, 115)



Often the crowd does not recognize a leader until he has gone, and then they build a monument for him with the stones they threw at him in life.  —Oswald Sanders  (Henry & Richard Blackaby; Spiritual Leadership, 248)


Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  —Winston Churchill


Leaders are not people who escape failure, but people who overcome adversity.  (Henry & Richard Blackaby; Spiritual Leadership, 42)


We need a new generation of authentic leaders in Christ’s church who are not quick to quit at the first sign of trouble but are willing to intentionally commit themselves to longer terms of ministry in service of the savior. (Aubrey Malphus; Pouring New Wine into Old Wineskins, 118)


Jesus called his followers to live the cross-life.  “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mk 8:34).  He flatly told his disciples, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35).  When Jesus immortalized the principle of the cross-life by washing the disciples’ feet, he added, “I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:15).  The cross-life is the life of voluntary submission.  The cross-life is the life of freely accepted servanthood.  (Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 116)


Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve, you don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second law of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.  — Martin Luther King Jr.



The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.”  —E. M. Bounds  (David Wells; God in the Wasteland, 60)


It is more than comforting to realize that it is those who have plumbed the depth of failure to whom invariably God gives the call to shepherd others.  This is not a call given to the gifted, the highly trained or the polished, as such, without a bitter experience of their own inadequacy and poverty.  They are quite unfitted to bear the burden of spiritual ministry.  It takes a man who has discovered something of the measures of his own weakness to be patient with the sins of others.  Such a man also has firsthand knowledge of the loving care of the chief shepherd in his ability to heal one who has come humbly to trust him.  —JC Medcalf



God has little use for people whose main concern is “What will the neighbors think?”   Leaders must be willing to sacrifice and take risks with their public image.  (Lauire Beth Jones; Jesus Ceo, Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, 44)


To ask to reign with Jesus is to ask to suffer with him; and not only do they not know what they are asking for (cf. 10:37-39; Rom 8:17; 2 Tm 2:12; Rv 3:21), they have as yet no clear perceptions of Jesus’ sufferings.  To ask for worldly wealth and much honor is often to ask for anxiety, temptation, disappointment, and envy; and in the spiritual arena to ask for great usefulness and reward is often to ask for great suffering (cf. 2 Cor 11:23-33; Col 1:24; Rv 1:9).  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary–Volume 8, 431)


Change agents have got to deal “up front” with rejection.  Some people are not going to get on board with the changes you are proposing.  Either because they have invested heavily emotionally, financially or in time commitments with the old way.   Furthermore, if the leader has trouble with rejection or is unable to repent of his pride and desire to be liked by everyone”, he needs to get in a different line of work because change almost always means that there will be some who never come along and reject the work and the person promoting change.  (Aubrey Malphus; Pouring New Wine into Old Wineskins, pgs.103-4)


So What?:  Deuteronomy was written to show us the best possible life on a fallen planet.  If we want to enjoy that best possible life we will model servant leadership and we will elect those who best exemplify servant leadership.


Perfect love is a kind of self-abandonment and self-sacrifice.  Love requires us to die to ourselves and our own interests for the sake of the one we love.  To love a person we must sacrifice ourselves to please him.  Because of this high price love demands we become quite upset if love is not returned or the person we love does not pay us any attention.  ( Henry Scougal and Robert Leighton; God’s Abundant Life, 42)



Example is not the main thing in persuading others; it’s the only thing.  —Albert Schweitzer  (Dr. Lynn Anderson; They Smell Like Sheep, 122)



Congregational members seldom rise above the level of their leaders. (Eddie Gibbs; Church Next, 122)


The true leader is never satisfied to leave his people the way they are. (Leighton Ford; Transforming Leadership, 209)





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