We were never meant to serve God in isolation. Often we shoulder more responsibility than we should. In this post we learn three reasons why one is the loneliest number. And we learn 4 practical tips for serving together.
Every week I publish my sermon notes so that you may read them for yourselves. For my parishioners, this could be a good review from the weekend before. And it gives you a chance to see what I intended to say! For other pastors and ministers, feel free to borrow and use any of this material. I'd love for God to be glorified by you incorporating these notes into your own worship.
Summer Singles Part 8: One Is The Loneliest Number - 07.22.12
Intro: Today we continue our Summer Singles. Our text comes from Exodus 18, and our title is “One Is The Loneliest Number.” As we continue our Summer Singles, where each week we share one single idea that can change our lives, today is a first. Brandi sang it...
I love that song! It’s filled with truth. Today there are two groups of people I want to especially talk to. Group #1 - (these are like me) Those who think they can do it alone. People who love the task and just would like to get by themselves and get it done. More task oriented than people oriented. They like the way they do it. They think no one else can do it quite like them. A tad perfectionistic. Group #2 - Those who think that they don’t have much to offer. Those who are all too willing to sit back and let others lead. Those who don’t take initiative on the excuse they haven’t been asked. Those who see the task as too big for them alone and don’t feel they are an important contributor. Both groups today need to hear this single idea. We were built to change the world TOGETHER!
3 Reasons We Need TOGETHER:
One of the reasons I love this story of Jethro and Moses so much is that it is so real, so human. Can you picture it? ... the father-in-law comes for a visit? You know what family is like, right? No one is particularly enthralled with you inside of family. Here is Moses, the leader of 3 million, who faced down Pharaoh, who parted the Red Sea, who received The Ten Commandments from God Himself - and I’m sure by this point he is accustomed to everyone looking up to him. But not the father-in-law. He has a different perspective. He can see Moses’ blind spot and isn’t afraid to say something about it.
“Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” Exodus 18:14 NIV
As great a leader and law giver as Moses was, he was not as good at people organization. There’s a knack to organizing people. Jethro had that knack. He could see what Moses could not. Moses was focused on the task of figuring out each case, one at a time. He may not have even seen the waiting room.
Illustration - Have you ever been stuck in a waiting room at the doctor’s office? The doctor may be the greatest doctor in the world, but if you have to wait for hours in a small, cramped waiting room, it’s no wonder your blood pressure is up! Don’t you wish every doctor had Jethro as a father-in-law?
Here’s the truth. None of us are good at everything! No matter how great your expertise in one area, you’ll be lacking in another.
“Each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” 1 Corinthians 7:7b NIV
We all have blind spots! Without the gifts that other people have - that we don’t have - we couldn’t see our blind spots. We were not made to be alone. We were made to be a community. That leads us...
As great as Moses was, he benefited from Jethro’s advice. He could have been all full of himself, thinking how much his family didn’t understand the burdens of leadership. Not Moses!
“Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.”
Exodus 18:24 NIV
This may show the greatest strength of Moses: that he was able to listen to the good counsel of others. You shouldn’t be surprised that the Wisdom books of the Bible have some pointed advice about listening to advice.
“Stupid people always think they are right. Wise people listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15 GNT
Often the difference between success and failure comes down to our ability to listen to good advice. It doesn’t hurt anything except our own egos to hear what someone else, with good intentions, want to share with us. In fact, the Bible encourages us to seek many advisers.
“Plans fail without good advice. But they succeed when there are many advisers.” Proverbs 15:22 NCV
Not only do I benefit from being together with others, but...
Consider the possibility that Jethro would have seen the help he could have offered Moses, but instead decided just to keep it to himself. The entire nation of Israel would have suffered!
“If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” Exodus 18:23 NIV
Jethro didn’t have the gift of hearing God’s laws. Jethro didn’t have the gift of confronting kings and pharaohs. But he did have people organization skills. Because he was willing to share his gifts, all the people - including his son-in-law - benefited. We have an obligation to use our God-given gifts to help others!
“God has given you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other ...” 1 Peter 4:10 LB
This is what makes the family of God so special. We are a family. But we are also a body. We each have a unique purpose and ability. We would not be whole without all the members working together.
“There are different kinds of service to God... together you form the body of Christ and each one of you is a necessary part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:5, 27 LB
Remember Brandi’s song? Together we can change the world? This is not just a matter of how well we can benefit one another within the church, but also a matter of how well the church can reach the world for Christ. When the church works together as it was designed to do, it fulfills all it’s purposes better - including the purposes of reaching others for Christ.
So what if you agree that alone you can’t see your blind spots, can’t benefit from others, and others can’t benefit from me. What can you do about it? Here are 4 practical tips for not playing “One is the Loneliest Number” with your Christian life.
4 Practical TOGETHER Tips:
Tip #1: ___Discover my spiritual gifts___.
There is an online assessment tool and it’s free. It takes about 15 minutes. Just answer each of the 140 questions quickly and transparently. (There’s no identification - no one but you will know.) In my case my strengths were teaching, music, leadership, encouragement and writing. The bottom? Anything dealing in speaking in tongues and celibacy! So... guess I better stay married! Here’s the link.
Tip #2: ___Join a ministry team___.
There’s plenty to do around Church Requel. We would be glad to have your help. The more people who are serving, the easier it is for everyone! Once you know know your spiritual gifts, find a way to use them for the benefit of the church and for the world! How to get started? Talk to Pastor Steve.
Tip #3: ___Start a ministry team___.
You may respond to tip #3 by saying that your particular gift is not something that we are doing right now as a ministry. That’s ok. We’ve been waiting for you to start! Seriously, make this a matter of prayer. Many of the things that happen here have come not because of my leadership, but because of others. Example - Sheri and Food Ministry.
Tip #4: ___Become a small group___.
We have some folks here who just don’t get connected to anyone else throughout the week. This fellowship of Church Requel is your only fellowship. You are hungry for more. We want to facilitate your connection with one another. In your programs this weekend are 3x5 cards. Write your name and phone number and we’ll get you connected with others who feel the same way you do. Or you could offer your home or apartment as a place to meet. Tell us when and we’ll share that. A new small group could be born out of our fellowship today. Cool!
Conclusion: I love teaching and leading here at Church Requel. I admit that I have my own blind spots. My biggest limiting factor is that I do too much. I’m learning and I’m growing. The church is benefiting. For example, Steve is doing much more of the ministry leadership this year. Marci is handling the programs for us. Diana is posting our photos. Dave is doing much of our online video work now. Once a month Brandi leads our singing. Lots of you are helping with the setup and tear down every week.
With all these positives, we as Church Requel could be so much more. We could reach so many more people. I know I’m doing all I can do - and in there lies part of the problem. We will grow only as more of us share our gifts and our lives with one another. Tonight consider what you can do to benefit from others here in our church family and how the church family can benefit from you!