The prayer of the Servant
One day in college in Bucharest, Romania, the dean came to me and said, “You are missing school every Saturday. We know you are an Adventist, but in this country there is no God. The next Saturday that you miss school will be your last day in college. You will be expelled.” I prayed for two days and nights asking God to save my education—but with no answer. Then I asked my dad for direction. He answered, “You said you want to serve God, didn’t you? If that’s still true, then you need to change your prayer style. There are many things that God’s servants should do, but I recommend you start with three vital points:
1. “Sacrifice your will to God’s will. Your prayer should mirror that of Jesus: ‘ “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” ’ (Luke 22:42).1 Don’t pray only routine or crisis prayers; make prayer a lifestyle, make it the breathing of your soul. If you love God more than anything else, then He comes before a job, before a house, before education— even before family. ‘ “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” ’ (Luke 14:26).
2. “Seek first God’s honor and His plans. Before you ask God for help, look for the things that would benefit His kingdom and plans. Worry for His work, and let Him worry for your work. ‘“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Make sure that in all your prayers you put God, His kingdom, and His plans before your plans, and then learn to trust and wait on Him for all your needs. Pray that God will do whatever is best for His honor.
3. “Serve the people around you. Love the people at school more than your education. You need to love them as much as you love yourself, so you need to pray for them as much as you pray for yourself. They don’t know God. They are communist. But you are not there by chance. Remember, nothing happens by chance. God put you there for a time like this. You are there that they may know God through you. Do not misrepresent God by living a self-centered life. Therefore, pray that God will do with you whatever will help those people learn about God.”
This was tough counsel, but that night I prayed and told the Lord I was prepared to follow the advice I received from my father. Instantly I had peace. I didn’t know how God would answer, or whether I would be expelled from school, but I knew that God heard my prayer. The next day was a Friday; it was to be my last day of school. As I approached, the school secretary asked me whether I was friends with the country president, Nicolae Ceauşescu. I thought she was joking. She asked whether I had any friends, relatives, or connections in the government. My answer was a simple “No.” She then told me that early in the morning, the president had given an order. Starting that Saturday, to save energy and help the economy, all schools in the country were to be closed every Saturday.
I called my dad and told him the great news. He said, “If you want to serve God, remember, don’t ever try to have Him serve you. Jesus came to serve; do the same. Honor Him, and He will honor you.” I understood from that day that leaders are called to sacrificial service.
This issue of Ministry considers what it takes to be effective in leader- ship throughout the life cycle, from internship to retirement. God calls us to service. Jesus gave up heaven to serve and save. Moses was willing to lose his own salvation to serve and save others (Exod. 32:32). Paul said that he would rather be anathema, cut off from Christ, for others’ sake (Rom. 9:3, ASV). It has been well said that “Service Leadership is the powerful force that occurs once a person discovers their heart to serve, answers their call to lead, and summons their courage to engage.”2
Leaders are called to love God and His work more than self, love people, and serve them. It begins with a close relationship with God. “Without this daily communion with God no human being can gain power for service.”3
I pray that Ministry will be a blessing and a tool to support your service for God.
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1 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture is quoted from the New King James Version.
2 “What Is Service Leadership?” Kiwanis, accessed October 10, 2017, kiwanis.org/clubs/member -resources/service-leadership/what-is-service -leadership.
3 Ellen G. White, In Heavenly Places (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1967), 85.