Our final post in our series on the book, “Get Real,” by John Leonard. Leonard has certainly thrown cold water in our faces many times and challenged all kinds of stereotypes about evangelism. This final excerpt in a calmer way, challenges our standard thinking about serving and being served.
“Christians are always taught to serve others, particularly non-Christians because we hope that through our service we can show them how wonderful Christ is. Therefore, we never let our non-Christian friends serve us, but we are always serving them, in the belief that our example will bring them to Christ. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When we’re constantly helping someone, we rob that person of their dignity. They’re not learning that they have something to offer others. Jesus honored the Samaritan woman when he asked her for a drink of water. If it is better to give than to receive, as our Lord said (Acts 20:35), why are we robbing those we want to come to faith of the opportunity to be blessed and to be a blessing by giving to us? We may be driving them away from us because we never let them reciprocate our generosity by gratefully and willingly receiving from them. I know firsthand how demeaning it is to have a friend who never lets you serve him, but who is always more than ready to serve you. I have a friend I’ve known for nearly fifty years, and during those fifty years that we’ve been friends, he has helped me in more ways than I can remember. In fact, if I were to call him right now and tell him I needed his help, he would drop everything and travel whatever distance necessary to help me. The problem is that in all these years I have never been able to do anything for him because he won’t let me. He has never called me and asked for any help, at any time whatsoever! He will not let me help him at all with anything that he has to do, nor will he let anyone else help him. My friend believes he’s being an exemplary Christian, serving others as Christ served, and he is one of the most deeply spiritual people I know. However, he has robbed me of being in an equal relationship with him. He has always made me the receiver and never allowed me to be the giver. He has taken away my dignity because I am not able to reciprocate. I would love to get together with my friend more often, but whenever we do I just feel more indebted to him. It is better to ask others to help you because when you ask others for help you are valuing them as people. You are communicating that they have something to give, and it reminds us that we are all people in need. Everyone, regardless of their situation, has something to offer.
By doing things for seekers who come to your church, but not asking them to give, you encourage them to be self-serving. Conversely, too many Christians believe that they have to keep serving people to keep those people coming. No wonder we are so tired in the church. For every eight people riding, we have two pulling.
When our missionary in Paris leaves, no one will be able to fill his position, and in all likelihood that ministry will end. But your ministry—if you’re willing to ask others for help—will continue because you will have discipled people to do the things that you’re not capable of doing.” I call this the Incompetency Principle. It requires asking others to help you and discipling them to do the things that need to be done. You need to be humble enough to ask for help and let people use their gifts. In the process, people will be discipled in ministry, and you will leave a legacy that will endure forever.
If we believe it is more blessed to give than receive, we should let others have the opportunity to receive blessings. We must learn to ask others for help.
Questions for Thought or Discussion
1. Prior to reading this excerpt, have you ever thought about the idea of allowing unbelievers to serve/help you in the name of evangelism? What do you think of Leonard’s take on this?
2. Can you think of people in your life that you are building relationships with that are the kind of person that love to help and serve that this idea would be a great match to try? What would you ask them to help with?