By Sue Ramsey
Whether they're standing on John Wooden's Pyramid of Successorcounting Pat Summitt's Definite Dozen, members of a team must commit to their leader's vision in order to be effective. In return, it is the leader's responsibility to equip his or her athletes with the necessary skills to execute the game plan.
Jesus left the cozy confines of His earthly father’s workshop to fulfill His Heavenly Father’s plan. It was His assignment to teach, instruct and model the vision to His recruited team of 12 (which became 11 after one transferred).
As the game clock of His life here on earth wound down, His team struggled to understand their purpose. I can imagine the apostle Thomas pondering, “Lord, what now?” and Peter contemplating, “But how are we to…?” Jesus, sensing their uncertainty, gave His final pep talk and revealed Team God’s vision. He sent them into all nations to make disciples. There you have it, team of 11! How?
“GO–REACH–TEACH, just like I showed you!” Quite the assignment, right? Where were they to begin? How could they teach others “to obey all the commands I have given you (Matthew 28:20)?” They turned to Jesus’ stories.
These stories are also a guide for us, showing how to both live and teach others to walk in God’s ways.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus teaches a powerful message about servants using their talents to bring glory to their master, the distributor. It is important to note the three servants did not receive an equal number of talents (one received five, another three, and the other one). Too often, we look at what others receive instead of realizing God has gifted us with all we need. In addition, God expects us to use our gifts to further His Kingdom.
In this teaching, Jesus expresses the master’s disappointment in the servant who received one talent. It wasn’t that he didn’t produce like the other servants; he did NOTHING with what he received. Paul taught a similar message to the churches at Galatia: “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else,” (Galatians 6:4). Preacher and author of Cure for the Common Life Max Lucado puts it this way: “You can do something no one else can do in a fashion no one else can do it. Exploring and extracting your uniqueness excites you, honors God, and expands His Kingdom.”
Newsflash: You are fearfully and wonderfully made in your Creator’s image (Psalm 139:14). You are blessed with your own specific abilities, skills and opportunities. Put forth the effort, daily, to use them to bring Him glory and grow His Kingdom.
Diakoneo—the Greek word means “to minister to; to be an attendant; wait upon; actively serve.” This word is used 37 times in the New Testament. It themes Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:35-46 when He explains how to treat “the least of these.” Perhaps one of the most powerful and motivating verses in Scripture is found in the middle of this parable.
Discipleship involves actively serving to meet others’ needs. It begins with having the right attitude. In everything He did and said, Jesus made His purpose and passion clear.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many,” (Matthew 20:28). Our Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, knowing His trip to the cross was imminent, poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet (John 13:5). He washed off their dirt of the day by loving and serving. We too are called to have this attitude to “serve one another in love,” (Galatians 5:13).
Be motivated daily to put in the effort to use your gifts with an attitude of service. This is the game plan Christ left for us as we obey Him. May we never forget His departing words in Matthew 28:20: “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, heighten my awareness of the abilities You have given me and the needs of those You have put in my life. May I carry a servant’s heart like Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Coach Sue Ramsey retired from a 35-year coaching career in 2015, spending 20 years as the head coach for the Ashland University women’s basketball team. She led the Ashland Eagles to a Division II national title in 2013, which followed on the heels of being 2012 national runner-up. That same year, Coach Ramsey was named the 2012 Conference, Regional and NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year. She has been inducted into Miami University’s prestigious Cradle of Coaches as well as Athletes in Action’s Hall of Faith. Recognitions include the Carol Eckman Award (2012) for demonstrating outstanding values and character, and FCA’s Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award (2011), which speaks directly to her reputation as a coach, leader, mentor and woman of God. Today, Coach Ramsey is serving God’s calling as a motivational speaker, team culture facilitator and leadership specialist. Connect with her at CoachRamsey.com.