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The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren—A Synopsis (continued).

Chapter 33—How Real Servants Act (pages 257-264)


Although a believer can know his ministry by learning his S-H-A-P-E (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences), it is more important for him to be servant, which requires a servant’s heart. Only by being a servant is it possible for a believer to truly mirror Christ in his life. The believer that is serving others, not having others serve him (man’s mark of “success”), is considered what is “truly great” in the eyes of God. Whereas a person’s ministry encompasses a believer’s “shape,” to be a servant only requires the believer to have opportunity and character.

The following qualities define a real servant:

1. Availability.

Real servants become available upon seeing a need, even when it interrupts their normal schedule. A servant is always ready to serve, wherever and whenever, no matter the inconvenience.

2. Vigilance.

Real servants are always attentive to possible needs, ready to jump on them. They realize God is watching even the small opportunities, because all occasions to serve is God’s way of providing spiritual growth for the believer.

In fact, spiritual maturity is directly proportional to servanthood, which is to say that all the glory and recognition from man that is achieved in Christian service matters little compared to the glory and recognition a servant receives from God in all the minute opportunities for service in life, which will carry over into eternity

3. Doing the best with available personal assets.

Real servants do their best with what they have; they do not hesitate or wait for a better opportunity (which may never come) or pause for more talent or vacillate (waver back and forth).

4. Equal dedication in all tasks.

Real servants are not concerned with how great or small the task, every opportunity to serve is equally important. The “model” of Christ’s service in the “not so great” matters (washing feet, helping children, fixing breakfast, serving lepers) is the template for all believers. In fact, spiritual maturity comes quicker by attending to insignificant matters many would never do than with the great matters that inspire recognition and adulation that many rush to do.

5. Faithfulness.

Real servants can always be depended upon to complete their tasks and fulfill their every responsibility. They are timely and prepared for every opportunity. They keep their promises and complete their commitments.

6. Humility.

Real servants perform only for an audience of One. They realize that living in the “spotlight” can only blind them with pride and that recognition and adulation from the crowd is often one’s only reward. On the other hand, true and eternal reward comes from God and is the result of service frequently considered unimportant and goes unnoticed.


“Jesus . . . measured greatness in terms of service, not status.” (pg. 257)

“Without a servant’s heart, you will be tempted to misuse your shape for personal gain.” (pg. 258)

“God often tests our hearts by asking us to serve in ways we’re not shaped.” (pg. 258)

“Your shape reveals your ministry, but your servant’s heart will reveal your maturity. . . . Anyone can be a servant. All it requires is character.” (pg. 258)

“It is possible to serve in church for a lifetime without ever being a servant.” (pg. 258)

“Servants see interruptions as divine appointments for ministry and are happy for the opportunity to practice serving.” (pg. 259)

“We miss many occasions for serving because we lack sensitivity and spontaneity.” (pg. 259)

“God expects you to do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are. Less-than-perfect service is always better than the best intention.” (pg. 260)

“God will never exempt you from the mundane. It’s a vital part of your character curriculum.” (pg. 260)

“Small tasks often show a big heart.” (pg. 261)

“Servants finish their tasks, fulfill their responsibilities, keep their promises, and complete their commitments.” (pg. 261)

“Faithful servants never retire. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.” (pg. 262)

“Self-promotion and servanthood don’t mix. Real servants don’t serve for the approval or applause of others. They live for an audience of One.” (pg. 262)

“Unfortunately, many leaders today start off as servants but end up celebrities.” They become addicted to attention, unaware that always being in the spotlight blinds you.” (pg. 263)

“Notoriety means nothing to real servants because they know the difference between prominence and significance.” (pg. 263)

“Even the smallest service is noticed by God and will be rewarded.” (pg. 264)


Mark 10:43; Matthew 7:16; 2 Timothy 2:4; Galatians 6:10; Proverbs 3:28; Ecclesiastes 11:4; Colossians 3:23; 6:3; John 13:15; Acts 28:3; Luke 16:10-12; Psalm 12:1; Proverbs 20:6; Philippians 2:19-22; Matthew 25:23; 1 Peter 5:5; Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:22; Matthew 6:1; Galatians 1:10; Colossians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 12:22-24; 15:58; Matthew 10:42.


A believer’s priority in life should be to please God by serving others, an activity that depends not so much on one’s S-H-A-P-E but on one’s servant heart (character) coupled with God-given opportunities (no matter their size) that will never fail to come. Real servants make themselves available to every need, they are vigilant to the needs around them, they do their best with what they have, they are dedicated no matter the size of the task, they are faithful in keeping their word and commitments, and they require no attention from man in the process.