“For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:33—11:1).
Most Christian leaders agree their main priority—maybe their top priority—is seeing lost people saved.
And too many Christian leaders think the inadequacies of others—immature leaders, uncommitted church members—are the main reason their congregations aren’t reaching that goal.
But in my study of scripture this week I was struck with a truth that should have been obvious to me. I was reading 1 Corinthians and meditating on Paul’s claim, quoted above: “I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” And here’s what hit me: The first step toward seeing others saved rests with me and how I view myself. When I am selfless, many will be saved. Others finding salvation begins with my selflessness. And that’s something I can fix without waiting for or depending on anyone else.
THE FACT IS THAT SELFLESSNESS ALWAYS PRECEDES SALVATION:
1. YOU MUST BE SELFLESS TO SAVE OTHERS.
The savior always runs toward the danger without stopping to guarantee his own safety. He charges into the burning building to save the frantic child. He jumps into the river to rescue the drowning boater. He steps in front of the shooter to protect the threatened crowd.
To save others, you must be willing to lay down your own life. Without your selflessness, others will perish.
2. YOU MUST BE SELFLESS TO GIVE JESUS TO OTHERS.
What we tell church members is true for leaders too. Your own preferences should not be your first concern. The last thing you should ask is, “Do I like this?” Instead, the real issue is, “Will this help others find Jesus?”
A couple years ago, legendary church builder Ben Merold, at 80 years old, said in a sermon, “You must be willing to put up with stuff you don’t like in order to reach people who aren’t like you.” I talked with him later, and he joked, “I’m still not sure I like the Gaithers!” Then he added, in all seriousness, “My last 15 years in located ministry, I didn’t like anything we did.” And in all those years the church where he preached grew, and many lost people were saved.
3. YOU MUST BE SELFLESS TO RECEIVE JESUS.
There’s no such thing as a selfish salvation. Receiving Jesus is all about surrendering everything to his control. I’m guessing Paul urged the Romans to present their bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) because he knew this kind of selflessness is a daily challenge.
That’s the spirit behind his admonition to “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). There was no ego in this, but just the opposite. He was saying, “It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus. To the degree that I selflessly imitate Jesus with my decisions and actions and words, you do the same.”
Leaders who have learned the secret of selflessness are intent on leading others to become disciples of Jesus, not disciples of themselves. They constantly evaluate their own motives and attitudes and lifestyles in the light of what Jesus taught and demonstrated. As they learn to selflessly follow him, they’re prepared to show others how to do the same.
Meditating on this Scripture has led me to realize the areas of my life where I’m still selfish. Where could you be more selfless? How would those decisions make you more able to point others to Jesus?