+27 (11) 867 3505 church@bbcmail.co.za

One of the curses of the contemporary Western-influenced evangelical church has been the rise of celebrity Christianity. While it is often no fault of the preacher’s, many Christians have elevated certain gifted preachers to celebrity, if not cult, status.

One of the negative results of this tendency is that many non-celebrity Christians have come to believe that their service for Christ only has value to the degree that it is publicly recognised. The most fruitful servants, celebrity Christianity tells us, are the most public. If God has gifted you, he intends for others to recognise your gifts.

Scripture opposes this thinking in no uncertain terms. Take the text that Tommie recently preached: 1 Peter 4:7–11. Exhorting his readers to be a serving people, Peter charged them to serve “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (v. 11). The goal of service is not to be recognised but for God to be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Of course, some giftings are necessarily more public in nature than others. Those with the gift of teaching, for example, will of necessity exercise their gift in a public way. But they should not do it to be recognised. They should do it for God to be glorified through Jesus Christ.

John Calvin wrote of “the disease of ambition,” which manifests itself in seeking glory from people while doing what is right. “In all virtues the entrance of ambition is to be dreaded, and there is no work so laudable, as not to be in many instances corrupted and polluted by it.”

It is probably true to say that some of the greatest ministry in the local church will never be publicly celebrated or platformed. The most fruitful servers are usually willing to serve from the shadows. Shadow servers quietly pray with those who are sick, hurting, or wandering. Shadow servers are often the most instrumental, but invisible, in God-honouring worship. They organise rosters so that everyone knows who will be serving in what capacity on the Lord’s Day. They arrive early on Sunday for music practice, to ensure the sound runs well, or to get the coffee brewing for post-worship fellowship. They are not recognised—unless something goes wrong!

It is the shadow server who faithfully prepares her home each week so that it is ready in time for Grace Group, even if the day hasn’t particularly lent itself to such preparation. It is the shadow server who faithfully works through the selected songs for Sunday to ensure that they are easily accessible for congregational worship. It is shadow servers who are there before others to ensure that every Communion glass is filled, and every tray populated with bread, so that the church can benefit from the means of grace.

Shadow servers are rarely celebrated for their untiring, faithful service. There are no celebrity Communion preparers. There are no celebrity sound engineers. There are no celebrity chair stackers. There are no celebrity widows who pray fervently week by week for the preaching of the word. But there are dozens of church members who serve faithfully in these shadow capacities week after week, who will rarely be acknowledged, but who are ministering “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

How do you know if you are a shadow server? How do you know that you have escaped the allure of celebrity Christianity’s insistence on recognition? Here are three diagnostic questions.

First, what is my motivation for serving? Am I serving so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ? It is difficult to pursue the approval of God and people at the same time (Galatians 1:10). It is certainly good to recognise and thank those whose service benefits you. But if you are content to serve only when you are recognised, it may be that you love the glory that comes from people more than the glory that goes to God.

Second, in whose power am I serving? God will only be glorified “through Jesus Christ” in your service as you serve “by the strength that God supplies” (1 Peter 4:11). You must recognise that, in and of yourself, you have no ability to glorify God. God will be glorified in your service only as you serve in conscious recognition of Jesus Christ. Are you serving for Christ to be magnified? Are you serving so that others may see the beauty of Christ? Are you pointing others to Christ as you serve?

Third, who am I looking to benefit through my serving? Peter urged his readers to use their gifts to “serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10). First Corinthians 3:10–15 talks about rewards that last and rewards that don’t. The context is works of service performed in and for the local church. Is your service distinctly church based? That is, are you looking to use your gifts to serve those with whom God has planted you in covenant relationship? Are you serving the local church of which God has made you a member? This is not to say that Christian service outside the church is meaningless, but your primary port of call for service is the local church.

I close with an extended quote from Nick Batzig:

On Judgment Day, our popularity or public accolades will not matter one iota. Rather, what will matter is how faithfully and diligently we sought to use the gifts God has given us for his glory and the edification of his people. What a difference it would make if we all sought to serve from the shadows before the ever-watching eye of God, rather than to serve for reputation or the praise of men. May our God give us the grace to be willing to do all our service from the shadows.

Stuart Chase - 19 September 2022

Shadow Servers

BBC Shorts

Shadow servers are rarely celebrated for their untiring, faithful service. But there are dozens of church members who serve faithfully in these shadow capacities week after week, who will rarely be acknowledged, but who are ministering “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

From Series: "BBC Shorts"

Occasional pastoral thoughts from the elders of Brackenhurst Baptist Church.

Download Audio     Read Online

Powered by Series Engine