Terry Anglea is the pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” (Joshua 1:1-2)
I was reading Joshua in my devotions not too long ago. Something I had noticed before began to jump out again as I read this great Book. My attention began to be drawn to how many times I’ve read about Moses in this book of Joshua, and in the same place where it used his name the word ‘servant’ appeared, speaking about him. I made note of that. I want us to use the Bible for a few minutes. I want you to see this. God doesn’t repeat Himself in the Bible because He ran out of something to say. He repeats Himself because of emphasis. He wants you to get something.
Here in verse number one of chapter one, the Bible says, “Moses the servant of the Lord.” In verse two God calls him, “Moses my servant...” In verse number seven of this same chapter about half way through the verse, “...which Moses my servant commanded thee:” Verse 13 of the same chapter, “Remember the word which Moses the servant...” Verse 15 toward the end of the verse there, “...which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you.”
Look at chapter eight if you would and verse 31 at the beginning of the verse, the Word of God says, “As Moses the servant...” In verse 33 you’ll see toward the end of the verse, “...as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded.” Chapter nine and verse 24 in the middle of the verse, “...the Lord thy God commanded his servant Moses...” Chapter 11 and verse 12 toward the end of the verse, “...Moses the servant of the Lord.” Verse 15 at the beginning of the verse, “As the Lord commanded Moses his servant,...” Chapter 12 and verse six you’ll find twice in this verse at the beginning, “Them did Moses the servant of the Lord...” and halfway through the verse, “...and Moses the servant of the Lord...”. Chapter 13 and verse eight at the end of the verse, “even as Moses the servant of the Lord...” Chapter 14 and verse seven at the beginning of the verse, “Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord...” Chapter 18 and verse seven toward the end of the verse, “...which Moses the servant of the Lord gave them.” Then chapter 22 you find three times. In verse two, “Ye have kept all that Moses the servant...” verse four toward the end of the verse, “...which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you...” and then in verse five, “But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you,...”
When you get to the book of Joshua, Moses is dead. He has gone to the mountain and looked over into the Promised Land. God has buried his body for fear that it would be worshiped. So he’s already gone. We just read 18 times in this one book of the Bible, where God refers to Moses as His servant. The word servant is used 20 times in the book of Joshua. Eighteen of those times it’s talking about Moses. Eighty percent of the times in this book that the word servant is used, it’s referring to Moses.
You say, “What is so significant about that?” I think if I had time to come to each one of you individually and said to you, “Who, in your opinion, was the greatest leader in the Old Testament? Give me the name of the man in the Old Testament who you think was the greatest leader?” I think a great percentage of you, like I would have, would say, “No doubt, Moses was the greatest leader in all of the Old Testament.” Yet in the Bible, when God referred to Moses here in this Book, He didn’t refer to him as the great leader. God called him His servant.
There is no questioning Moses’ leadership skill and ability. He led anywhere from two to three and a half million people out of the land of Egypt. He led them through the Red Sea. He led them to the coast of the Promised Land. He stayed with them as they journeyed for 40 years in the wilderness. He led them to victory over the great kings and their armies, Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan. All of these were significant occasions brought about because of the leadership ability of Moses. Yet when God chose to eulogize this man in the book of Joshua, He never used the term ‘leader.’ You won’t find the terms ‘lead’ or ‘leader’ in all of the book of Joshua. Instead you’ll find 18 times where God said about this great leader, “Moses was My servant... My servant... My servant.”
Brethren, for those of us who are privileged to be a part of the ministry today, let’s remember that a call to the ministry is a call to service. That’s what it is. It is not an application for a job. It is not a description of a position. It’s a call to service. I submit to you that if Moses spent his life being a servant of the Lord, then you and I would have no greater calling than to do just exactly what Moses did. Be the servant of the Lord.
There are three things I want to say today. I’m not just talking to preachers. I think this will apply to everybody. Everybody is a leader in some capacity. There are moms and dads and grandparents. There are school teachers. Most everybody in some capacity is in a leadership position. You young people will be some day. I want to say three things about leadership in connection with being a servant.
#1. Leadership’s first quality is servitude.
Before you can be a leader you must be a servant. Before one would ever be a leader, God will first see if they are willing to follow. If one will not follow and serve, then they will not ever be a good leader. The first quality of leadership is just being a servant, a faithful follower. Now Moses had several years of education in the school of servitude. Down there in the land of Egypt, we think of that sometimes as a glamorous thing, but I want to tell you something. I don’t think it was very glamorous to walk into the palace of Pharaoh after 40 years in the desert and say, “Hey, God said, ‘Let My people go’.”
Pharaoh said, “Who said what?”
Nobody respected him. His own people turned against him when Pharaoh didn’t cut them loose immediately. Yet he went back outside and said, “Lord, what do I do now?”
“Go right back in there and tell Pharaoh, ‘Let My people go’.”
Right back in there he went and said, “Let My people go.”
“Lord, what do I do now?”
“Go right back in there and tell him, ‘Let My people go’.”
So he did and got the same response. “No way.”
“Lord, what do I do now?” Over and over and over again, all the plagues came. Pharaoh didn’t cut the people loose. No doubt it was a very difficult position Moses was in, but God was testing him in the school of servitude. He was learning to follow orders, just doing what God said. Serving over and over again. Servitude is not always pleasant, but it is a requirement for leadership. If Moses had not been willing to follow the simple instructions, as unpleasant as they may have been, he would never have led them through the difficulties ahead. He gained his education in the school of servitude.
I want to say to you young people today, you’re not doing yourself any favors for your future if you’re making it difficult on your mom and dad to lead you. You make it difficult on your mom and dad to raise you now by not following and obeying them, not learning to be a good servant as a child, then you’re going to have an awful time when you get older. Part of the reason we have such havoc and chaos in our society is because of the breakdown of the family. Part of the reason we don’t have leaders in the home is because those folks who are trying to lead in the home never followed when they were boys and girls. They were never taught to follow. They were never taught to obey. They were never taught to just be a servant. Leadership begins with being a servant. It’s first quality is servitude.
I think back to when I got saved, October 25, 1975. I was saved at a home for delinquent boys and boys in trouble. I was 18 years of age. We had boys in that home 16, 17, and 18 years of age, a lot of whom hadn’t been taught, trained, and disciplined to obey and follow orders. I remember how difficult a time Mike had breaking our wills, and how he drilled into us obedience, obedience, obedience. He taught us to serve. He taught us to follow.
From there I went off to Bible college. Do you know what Bible college was? Four years of obeying orders. That’s what Bible college was. You do what you’re told. Fill out this form. Go to this place. Be at this service. Do this. Be in this class. Four years of following orders. You college students, if you can’t learn to follow orders in Bible college, God is not going to entrust you with any kind of leadership position in the ministry some day. If you can’t fill out the proper papers, you can’t be to class on time, you can’t just follow orders in Bible college and yet you’re going to go out and save America? It’s not going to happen, friend. Because leadership’s first quality is servitude. It’s learning to be a servant and follow orders.
When I graduated from college I went out to work for Brother Brown in Washington, Iowa and became his assistant pastor. I just did what I was told there for 10 years. Lead the choir. Teach the class. Run the bus ministry. Ride a bus route. I preached in junior church for 10 years. It amazes me how many graduates of Bible college feel they’re too educated to preach in junior church. You want something more than that? You want something bigger than that? You’ll never have it. I don’t know if there is anything any bigger than preaching to little boys and girls. For 10 years I preached in junior church. I did everything Brother Brown told me to do. Some of the things we’ve been trained in college to do, and some of the things we hadn’t been trained in college to do. It’s amazing how many subjects they missed in Church Ed!
One time Dr. Curtis Hutson was sitting up here getting ready to preach. That place had probably 800 folks in it. An old boy was up there singing the special, “Till the Storm Passes Over.” I never will forget it. Right in the middle of his special a bat flew out of the attic and started swooping down on that crowd. The crowd started going, “Oooh, ooh”. The guy singing, he saw the bat, too. He just started singing faster and faster. He finished that thing and that bat was swooping down like this. If you’ve ever known Brother Brown, he’s packed full of energy. He’s going nine yards from go everywhere he goes. He just said, “Now Brother Hutson, come and preach for us,” with the bat flying around and the crowd going “Aaah, aah.”
Brother Hutson said, “Brother Brown, I can’t preach with that bat flying around.”
He said, “ All right, all you ushers get that bat.” They ran down to the kitchen. They got brooms and mops and ran around that auditorium. Finally they got that bat corralled in a room and killed it. Dr. Hutson preached and we had the close of the service. At the end Brother Brown came around. He said, “Man, that was something with that bat flying around.”
I said, “Yes, sir.”
He said, “That was kind of funny tonight, wasn’t it?”
I said, “Yes, sir.”
He said, “It wouldn’t be so funny tomorrow night, would it?”
I said, “No, sir.”
He said, “I wonder how many more bats are in that attic.”
I said, “I don’t have any idea. I don’t suppose any.”
He said, “Do you have a .22?”
He said, “I want you to get some money from the church, and go buy some bird shot. I want you to get up in that attic and see if you can find any more bats.” This building, folks, is over a hundred years old. He said, “You get that .22 and some bird shot and get up in that attic.” I started going through my notes from Bible college, but I didn’t find anything in there on how to kill a bat. Hey, I’m a Bible college graduate in a suit and tie. Brother, the next day I got a teenage boy and we went up in that attic. After about an hour and 45 minutes we came out with 57 dead bats. I never had so much fun in all my life. But we have fellows coming out of college today who are too big and important to do that. They think everything in the ministry involves a suit and a tie. No, sometimes it involves blue jeans and boots, and gloves and a hat and a shovel, and a paint brush, and a mop.
Do you know what it really involves? It involves being a servant. It involves doing what you’re told. It involves being a follower. If you’re ever going to lead, you’re going to first have to learn to follow. Leadership’s first quality is being a servant.
#2. Leadership’s greatest quality is servitude.
I got interested in this. I got over there in Hebrews chapter 11, that Hebrews hall of faith chapter, where all those great men and women are mentioned. I got to counting and did you realize there are more verses in Hebrews chapter 11 about Moses than any other Old Testament character? He was a great leader, but he was a great leader because he was a great servant. The greatest quality is that of being a servant. Folks, we have to remember we are not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. The philosophy of this world down here, the attitude, the mentality, is far different from the mentality, philosophy, and attitude of the heavenly home where we belong. Down here greatness is measured by how many people wait on you. Down here greatness is measured by how many people do this and how many people follow that. Jesus never measured greatness by those kinds of standards. He never measured greatness by how many followed you, or how many waited on you.
Turn with me to Matthew 20 and let me show you what our Lord said here in verse 25. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.” He said, “That’s how it is in this world.” But in verse 26 He says, “But I’m going to tell you how it’s going to be according to the laws of heaven.” “But it shall not be so among you:...” You’re a different crowd. You march to the drum beat of a different drummer. “...but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Greatness is not measured by how many people you have waiting on you. Greatness is measured by how many people you’re waiting on. How many people are you helping? How many lives are you touching? How many people are you trying to help and be a blessing to in this life? The problems in our independent Baptist churches and in our homes a lot of times boil down to the fact that nobody wants to be a servant. Nobody wants to take a back seat. Everybody wants to lead and nobody wants to follow.
I think one of the greatest things recorded in all of Scripture happened over in John 13. When they got ready to have the last supper, and the disciples walked across those sandy, dusty roads of Palestine, on the way to the upper room. The custom in those days was that when you invited people to your house, you had a servant who stood by the door. When a guest arrived, they removed their sandals, their foot-wear, and left it outside the door. Then they sat down and the servant took a cloth and a basin with some water in it and washed the feet of the guest. That was the custom.
This was a borrowed upper room. The disciples got there and removed their sandals, whatever they wore back in those days. They removed that foot-wear and walked into the room. They were chatting no doubt, excited about celebrating the Passover, being with the Lord.
All of a sudden it dawned on them, there is no servant here. I can see Matthew. He’s thinking to himself, “Not me.” I can see Peter thinking to himself, “Not me.” James is thinking, “I’m not going to wash those guys’ feet. That’s for the servant. Where is the servant? Hey man, there isn’t any servant here.” So they’re all sitting around, thinking, “Not me.” Imagine how they felt when the Son of God stood up and got a basin and a towel and some water and says, “Let me wash your feet.” Do you know why He was the greatest leader? Because He was the greatest servant. Leadership’s greatest quality is servitude.
We’ve got to be careful we don’t get puffed up in the ministry. I know church folks are often good to their preachers. I know it’s a way for them to express their love. They want to do things for you. They want to wait on you and bring you little gifts and notes. If you’re not careful it will go to your head. You’ll get to feeling like you deserve it. “This is how it’s supposed to be. I’m the leader.” Somebody has got to do the work. “Not me.” The greatest quality of leadership is that of being a servant.
I was out of my pulpit two Sundays in a row. I got caught in a situation where I just couldn’t help it. I had to be at Brother Brown’s 25th anniversary, and this thing to Argentina was lined up for a year and a half. This past Sunday was my first time back in the pulpit for two Sundays. Brother, I told the folks at the end of the Sunday night service. I said, “People, I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to my office. I’m not going to close that door. I’m sitting right here on the Lord’s Supper table as long as you want me to stay here. I’ll shake your hand. You come by and we’ll talk and fellowship.” At 10:30 we were still at it Sunday night, fellowshipping, talking to the people. I’m not a great example. I’m just telling you something. God has worked me over on this thing. We hear this thing of, “We got to have leadership, leadership, leadership. What we need is leaders,” and we do. But leadership begins with being a servant. It’s greatest quality is that of being a servant. If we get too big to serve, we’re too big for God to use and to bless.
#3. Leadership’s perpetuating quality is servitude.
What do you mean? It’s continuing quality. Moses was a leader until the day he died. Do you know what Deuteronomy is? Deuteronomy is a book of Moses the leader commanding the people of Israel right before his death. So he remained a leader until the day he died. The reason he remained a leader until the day he died was because in his heart he remained a servant until the day he died. So much so that when he died, God said, “Moses, My servant, is dead.”
The perpetuating quality of leadership is servitude. Leaders lose their right to lead when they forsake their privilege to serve. Sitting down here on the front row tonight are two evangelists, one whose mentor sits over here, and there is a reason these men are busy in local churches. I’ll tell you why. I don’t know of two evangelists who serve the local church more than these two men do. They have a servant’s heart. They come to be a blessing.
Leaders, we lose our right to lead, our God given right to lead, when we forsake our privilege to serve. When it becomes more important what people do for us or think of us, than what we can do for them, then we’re in trouble.
Missionary Mark Sigstad was home on furlough and came by the church to report on the work there. I wasn’t in the service that Wednesday night, I was preaching somewhere, so I asked my wife, “How was the service?”
She said, “It was so wonderful. Brother Sigstad showed his slides and talked about the ministry, and boy, what God has done over there in Nigeria is just amazing. He showed all those slides and talked about the work. When he came to the pulpit and the lights came back on and the screen went up, the first thing out of his mouth was, ‘Now you’ve got to understand something. All I am is a servant of God’.” When my wife said that, I’ve been studying and thinking about this whole message and the light came on. That’s why he is the leader in that ministry. It’s because he’s a servant.
Here is one of the greatest examples of being a servant I’ve ever heard in my life. Years and years ago this preacher pastored a southern Baptist church, but he was coming to the independent Baptist movement. Dr. John Rice came and preached in his church and helped him and sent him up to Pastors’ School. The preacher and his wife went there, and if you’ve been to Pastors’ School, you know how that opening Monday night they had the church with a heart. Well, when Brother Hyles was teasing with the people in those ministries that came by, the Sunbeams, and the mentally handicapped, and the blind. Brother Hyles would always cut up and have a good time with them on the platform, and they enjoyed it. But this pastor didn’t catch the spirit of the thing and he got offended. “How in the world, a guy like that teasing those poor retarded folks and blind people.”
He just about went home, but he was staying in the home of one of the members. He went to their home Monday night. Tuesday night he just got more angry. Wednesday just got more angry. Wednesday night they stayed out real late to eat and fellowship and came rushing in and went to sleep. They overslept a little bit on Thursday, and got up a little late, got dressed in a hurry and left the room in kind of a mess. He had worn a pair of shoes the night before and got them all dirty and muddy, and they were laying there on the floor. They rushed off to Pastors’ School and spent all day on Thursday. Thursday night the service ended and they went back to the home. When they walked in their bedroom it was all cleaned up. The bed was made. Things were folded and neat. Right at the foot of the bed was his pair of shoes, beautifully cleaned and polished. There was a little note in there. He picked up those shoes and he pulled that note out. It said, “We’re sure glad you’re here this week. Hope you’re enjoying Pastors’ School. I trust God will speak to your heart. I saw your shoes were a little dirty. I wanted to clean them up for you.” It was signed by the 17 year old boy that lived in that home.
Brother Davis told his wife, “Honey, if this kind of attitude is what this kind of church produces, that’s what we want.” He went back to his church and pulled it out of the Southern Baptist Convention. For years he has pastored a great church all because a 17 year old boy had enough time to be a servant.
Do we need leadership? Maybe the reason we have a shortage of leadership is because we have a shortage of servants. Leadership’s first quality is servitude. Its greatest quality is servitude. Its perpetuating quality is servitude. Probably the greatest leader in the Old Testament was Moses, but 18 times God said, “He’s My servant.” That’s what I want to be, the servant of the Lord.