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Noblesse Oblige by Scott Applegate – Chapter 8: Noble Assignment

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Noblesse Oblige by Scott Applegate

This book was released by a pastor & author from Westminster, Colorado in 2009.  Scott is the pastor of Novation Church, a non-denominational bible-first church that serves the community each and every day, spreading the Gospel through practical works and teaching. We will publish each chapter weekly, and encourage you to read it and digest it each week in order to search for and live God’s true calling on your life. Through this series you will learn to search for your Noble: Living, Purpose, Vision, Mission, Ability, Faith, Action, Assignments, and Death.

 

Chapter #8 Noble Assignments

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ (Matthew 25:21 NLT)

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him… Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:17, 23-24 NIV)

In order to fulfill your noble obligation you must always keep before you your life’s purpose, which is to love God with all you have, and to express that love by loving people with all you have.

From there you must pursue and understand your calling, which is the unique way in which God wants you to live out your purpose. Equally important is understanding that wherever you find yourself right now, whatever job or season of life you are in, you are under assignment.

Your assignment is the immediate context in which God has for you to express your purpose and calling. It is important that you remain faithful to your current assignment and wait for God to complete His work in you before you can move on to your next assignment.

I have found the assignment part of your noble obligation to be the most frustrating and confusing piece of doing what God wants you to do with your life. Why? Most people confuse their current assignment with the calling that burns in their heart. Often the two do not seem to go together.

This leads to frustration, impatience, and burnout. However, you must grasp that your assignment will change often because within the context of your assignment God has much to teach you and train you as your calling unfolds. As you are faithful to your current assignment, you will see how it fits into God’s big picture for your life.

It is very likely that your current assignment feels very insignificant to how you long to be used by God. Perhaps you are working at a job that feels like a dead end. Maybe where you are serving feels unfulfilling and boring. Maybe you feel that your gifts and talents are being underutilized and you’re wondering if they will ever be used. Most likely you have that gnawing feeling that there is more to your life and calling than what you are experiencing.

It is important for me to tell you that all of those feelings are actually good. It is proof that God is at work. What you are feeling and going through is God’s classroom for being all that He desires for you. It is God’s practical and spiritual education for your future.

We all must graduate from the school of faithfulness before God allows us to move on to more of our calling. Faithfulness is the vehicle that takes us from one assignment to the next. In other words, if we are faithful in the small things God will give us bigger and more significant assignments.

I am the type of person that thrives on change. Thriving on change can be a good leadership quality if it is harnessed right. However, it can also be an excuse for giving into discontentment and selfish motives.

I am also a dreamer. I am always looking for possibilities and potential. The problem with dreamers is we get stuck in the realm of fantasy rather than action. People who live in the realm of future possibilities have the temptation to not fully give themselves to their current situation. This is the temptation for every person who has the feelings I described earlier. However, God uses people who are being faithful to what they know to do, rather than those who are waiting for some bigger, better deal.

Most of the people God uses in scripture were found working, not waiting for something bigger. Moses was taking care of his flock of sheep when God gave him his blockbuster assignment of leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. David was tending his sheep when he was anointed to be the new king of Israel. Jesus spent the first 30 years of His life as a carpenter while God prepared him for the climatic three years of His mission.

Everyone on the pastoral staff of my church was called from everyday work into ministry. We have former teachers, construction workers, businessmen, photographers, auto mechanics, and a butcher, just to name a few. Obviously not everyone is called to full-time church work, but you are called to something that is going to require faith and action.

There is much we can learn about assignments from the calling of Elisha found in 1 Kings 19. Elisha was found working rather than waiting for the bigger thing. Elisha was focused on life, work, family, and basic responsibilities when God called him. When the called person is found working and not waiting, it proves that their motives are pure and that they can be trusted with a bigger assignment. Whether he knew it or not, God was behind the scenes preparing his heart and working on his character. Elisha was taking classes in the school of faithfulness.

Graduating from the school of faithfulness requires passing the servant test. All ministry is serving. That is what the word ministry means. To serve is to minister. Jesus passed this test with flying colors and set the example that we are all to follow:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV)

What comes to mind when you think of being great in the Kingdom of God? Usually we think of missionaries, pastors, and evangelists. However, Jesus exalts people who serve (Mark 9:34)! A servant makes life better for others. To serve God is to serve others. God does not need us to make things better for Him.

The Apostle Paul gives us the ABC’s of serving when he proclaims:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

Avoid selfish ambition:

Ambition in itself is a good thing. Without ambition nothing gets accomplished. It is self-motivated ambition that we are to avoid. James 3:16 teaches us: “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (NIV)

Build humility:

Humility is not something that comes natural. It must be worked at. Humility is learned through serving. The more we serve, the more we become like Jesus. A great man once said: “The best way to find out whether you really have a servant’s heart is to see what your reaction is when somebody treats you like one.” (Ferguson, 1999)

During the assignment process we are constantly being tested to see if we have a servant’s heart or not. Servants are often overlooked and go unnoticed. The late Andrew Murray writes: “The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten.”

Cultivate an others-centered mindset:

A servant does not wait to be asked to meet a need. A servant meets a need without being asked. A real servant looks for opportunities to put others first. A servant is never “me first”.

Develop and keep a servant’s attitude:

John 13 describes the ultimate servant attitude. Jesus washes his disciples feet. Think how the disciples wore sandals and there were no paved roads. Think of the main mode of transportation-animals! The roads would have been filled with animal stuff. Therefore their feet would have had that stuff on them as well. Yet Christ was willing to wash their feet. You can always tell if a person has a servant’s heart by what the person is willing or not willing to do.

Where are you at right now? Are you longing to move on to a new assignment? Moving on to your next assignment will not only require a passing grade on the servant’s test, it also requires passing the motive test:

“The LORD’s searchlight penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.” (Proverbs 20:27 NLT)

The Scriptures teach that one day we will give an account of the motives behind the actions of our lives (Romans 14:12).

Our works will be tested by heavenly fire:

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, 53 and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15 NIV)

It is interesting to point out that the Greek word for “survives” is the same Greek word translated “abides” or “remains” found in 1 Corinthians 13:13:

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love,” (NASU).

The implication is that the things we do in our lives that are motivated by faith, hope, and love are the things that will last. Paul further drives home this point when he writes:

“We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NIV emphasis mine).

God is checking our hearts. He is testing our motives and asking if we do what we do with pure hearts? A good practice is too continually pray for fresh vision in your current assignment. Regardless of how you feel, seek God for vision for the people you are serving and serving with. Seek Him for wisdom for how to make your current assignment more prosperous.

During the assignment period we often find ourselves serving someone else’s dream. Ask God for passion for the dream of those you are serving and trust God for answers. If you pray from a pure heart and do not receive fresh vision and passion, you can be sure that God will be moving you to a new assignment soon.

Noble Questions to Ponder

What part of this chapter did you relate to the most?

Do you find yourself struggling in your current assignment?

Are you willing to pray for fresh vision in your assignment?

Which of the ABC’s of servanthood do you need to work on most?

Comment below and let us know what you think about your assignment!

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