I have the tremendous blessing of being surrounded by a highly-motivated and highly-competitive staff, numbering some 400+. What I have observed is that if we are not intentional about selfless relationships that bless and encourage, we can find ourselves ‘writing checks’ we can’t cover and overdraft with the very people we care about most.
What I’ve been gripped by, what our staff is getting after this summer (and what you should get after) is the challenge of “AAA Ministry”—a radical, in every instance commitment to esteeming others as better than ourselves. Full-out fidelity to seeing and acting upon needs of those around us as our highest expression of devotion to Christ.
Why now, why a challenge, why summer? Why not! It’s one of the most practical applications of the “more excellent way” modeled by Paul and Jesus Himself. And I’m convinced that zeroing in on this one thing during the season of relative recharge ahead will bear unanticipated and abundant fruit in the lives of every servant committed to the task.
Philippians 2:3 lays it out: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” That is, restrain your hand AND your mouth when prompted by pride or personal ambition. Ask the Lord to quicken your spirit and sensitize your heart to selfish motivation, and then when you sense it, do NOTHING from there…because nothing good will result.
But that’s only one side of the coin. Merely restraining the sin, while a victory for sure, is just the first step. We’re called to live out the diametric opposite—to go utterly, shamelessly, deferential in our dealings with every believer. And here’s what that can look like.
AFFIRMATION: Who they are. Develop eyes to recognize the character, integrity, Christ-likeness of those around you—who they really are. Express it verbally and appropriately when opportunities arise. Affirming others gets you off ‘go’ and gives expression to this biblical command. “You’re a hard worker and I appreciate it.” “Thank you for your faithfulness.” “You are a loyal servant of Christ, and I am blessed by your efforts.” Such expressions take counting others better than your self out of theory and into reality.
APPRECIATION: What they do. As your vision sharpens, tune into areas that are commendable, excellent, praiseworthy—actions and attitudes. Stand ready to offer a sincere word of thanks, trusting the Lord to use it for His purposes. “Thank you for answering the phone for me and helping me get all my work accomplished.” “Your steady, cheerful approach to serving Christ has blessed me many times in recent weeks. Thank you.” Thankfulness from the heart is never a waste of time and often a much needed encouragement we might not have seen. By taking time to express appreciation we are obeying the biblical injunction to ‘count others more significant than ourselves.’
ACCEPTANCE: What they say. When someone speaks, let your first inclination be “they’re right,” even if what they are saying is hard to hear or comes at a bad time. Criticism that comes to the source is most often intended to be constructive—welcome it and listen carefully. Determine to find the truth in what you hear and cultivate the mindset that ‘others are more significant than I am.’ In doing so you will benefit much more from the things your fellow servants of Christ are led to say to you.
How about it? I’m serious…are you? As visual reminder I’ve even asked that Philippians 2:3 be posted at every desk and in every workspace in our offices. It’s going to be a AAA summer—affirmation, appreciation, acceptance—to build up those whom we labor alongside, to off-load some of the selfishness in our own hearts, and prepare us, Lord willing, for another great season of ministry.