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Character Matters
February 2011
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Character Trait – Selflessness:
Check It Out. – What Does It Matter? – How Does it Count?
by Lori Coeman
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The Example of the Servant-Leader
A quick reading of Jesus’ discipleship-training course recorded in the gospel of Matthew as the “Sermon on the Mount” turns some readers away. They are repulsed by their mental image of a meek, door-mat of a person who refuses to stand up and be assertive.

Jesus’ disciples apparently didn’t get the point of the lesson either. James and John clearly needed more cumulative review because Mark 10:35-45 records how they blew their “application exercise” by insisting on specific positions of power. Somehow they had missed the key aspect of operating in God’s kingdom: love. Not the touchy-feely kind of love, but the self-sacrificing kind of love that puts others first.

The kind of love evidenced by Jesus’ journey to the Cross. The kind of love that lays power and glory aside to bring life to others. Jesus led by example, modeling the type of leadership required in God’s kingdom: the Servant-leader. This is the heart of a true disciple-maker.

Every time I read Regina Steiger’s article, tears well up. Partly because I can empathize with the emotions that come when someone close to you is dying. But also because she “gets it.” That is so refreshing in this day and age with its “me-first” mentality.

She understands the power of laying aside one’s plans – however good and God-ordained they may be – to care for someone in need. Her daughters learned a vital character lesson as they watched her and followed her example of selflessness.

What I found especially poignant in her story was how each of her daughters were challenged in their God-given design, and because of the character lessons they had absorbed so far, they were empowered to allow that design to be sanctified through the trying circumstances.

That is exactly what the quote of the month means – using the bumps in our pathway to make progress along that path. The cover picture on Wiersbe’s book shows a bubbling river with water rushing past stepping stones in the riverbed. We can either view the stones as dangerous obstacles and refuse to cross, or we can use the stones to navigate the river successfully. Now that’s true home discipleship.

The awesome reality of selflessness is that God doesn’t take away all sense of our self-identity. It’s not self-depletedness. It’s less of self and more of Christ’s nature displayed through our unique design.

Selflessness is a key component of godly love. As such, it is a pre-requisite for any person with a vision to lead. Unfortunately, when I look at some of the leadership training programs available to homeschoolers, I don’t always see this component. It makes me wonder if we are more concerned about making our point and taking our stand than being an accurate reflection of Jesus the Servant-leader.

But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-45)
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