Justice, Mission, Gospel-Centered Living, Servant Leadership. These are the buzz words in Christian circles today. I don’t know about you, but keeping up with being a local church assistant pastor, a father, and working a part-time job can be overwhelming at times. How do I remain faithful in all of these things AND change the world? I just recently finished two books that call us to the biblical standard of service and sacrifice but also lay out some tangible realistic ways to live out our calling from God. Not all of us are called to build orphanages overseas, but we can pray by name for specific children in those orphanages. Not all of us will be called to lead a large church or organization through great trials, but all of us can faithfully lead and serve in the office. I hope these books bless and encourage you to live a life of humility, service, and justice.
- Ordinary: How To Turn The World Upside Down by Tony Merida
Tony is thoroughly biblical and refreshingly authentic. He begins the book by describing a time when he was asked to speak on the poor to some students. He began looking through the scriptures to gather texts and prepare his message. As usual when we study God’s word, God met with Him during his preparation and Tony began putting into practice the things that God was teaching Him in his personal life. Tony does a great job of showing from scripture the biblical mandate for showing love and compassion and doing justice in a broken world. He discusses issues such as:
-Child Labor Slavery
All of these issues, as everyone knows, are overwhelming and seem practically impossible to eliminate. The reality is that we will never completely eliminate these issues. Only Christ can do that, and He will when he returns. We are, however, to be salt and light. Tony shares what God has called him and his wife to do, and directs us as the readers to do what God has led us to do. We are to do what we can with the resources and time that God has given us to love others the way Christ loved us. Tony and His wife, who wrote the book’s chapter addressing advocacy, give the reader some practical tangible things that we can do in our communities and abroad. Some can host someone in their home, while some can visit a shelter. Some can give of their time to tutor an under-privileged student. Some can adopt multiple children. Some can advocate in Washington for justice laws. Some can write letters to their congressman.
The book ends with a great chapter addressing God-Centered Humility through the life of William Wilberforce, a man who fought to abolish slavery in England. Wilberforce had a strong public ministry, but the source of his public strength was his humble brokenness before God. Tony reminds us to never forget the Grace of God and our responsibility to walk in holiness and humility as we fight for justice, for our walk with God is our source of power and our strength endurance.
Tony Merida-Tony is the founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
2. Improving Your Serve by Charles R. Swindoll
The inner life of a leader is essential to leading others in a way that reflects Christ. We must spend time with Christ and look at His example if we are to lead as a servant of Christ. Pastor Swindoll begins by addressing issues of the heart such as humility and unselfishness. He further addresses forgiveness and renewing our minds. He reminds us that we must start here. We must become humble before God if we are to ever be humble before others. The latter half of the book describes what a servant of God looks like by taking us through the Beatitudes found in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In the last few chapters, Pastor Swindle draws our attention to the dangers, the hardships, but also the wonderful rewards of living as faithful servant leaders of God. Serving is hard, but serving and suffering with Christ is one of the greatest ways to walk intimately with our Savior.
Charles R. Swindoll-Pastor Swindoll is the Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, Teacher at Insight For Living Ministries, and Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary.