A Barna survey examining changes in worldview among Christians once found that only 19 percent of professing born-again Christians acknowledged even a limited Christian worldview (based on Barna’s definition). That figure has remained unchanged for over a decade.
These findings present two problems. First, only a minority of evangelical Christians hold to a truly biblical worldview. Second, those who do are not making much of an impact.
In 1999, Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey reintroduced a new generation to the concept of Christian worldview in their book How Now Shall We Live?, a follow-up to Francis Schaeffer’s How Should We Then Live? Colson and Pearcey wrote that our lives and work have been separated from their original mission because Christians have lost the concept of a biblical worldview. The central premise of the book is that a comprehensive Christian worldview is necessary for Christians to successfully engage and influence their culture.
Since Colson and Pearcey’s book was published, Christian worldview studies have exploded. There are hundreds of books, classes, and websites dedicated to the concept of Christian worldview. In 2012, a Google search of “Christian worldview returned over 736,000 results. In 2016, it returned 2,540,000. So why isn’t all this education having more effect in the broader culture?
Something vital is missing. That something is the idea of sacrificial servant leadership.
The Biblical Basis for Servant Leadership
The verse quoted most often in worldview studies is Romans 12:2:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The lead-in to verse 2 is Romans 12:1:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
These verses are meant to be read together. They are all one sentence in the original Greek. The Christian worldview has the power to impact culture only when we read them as Paul intended. The intellectual renewal of verse two is important, but the power to live a life that makes a difference comes only from a commitment to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in a letter,
The religious act is always something partial; faith is something whole, involving the whole of one’s life. Jesus calls us not to a new religion, but to life.
Bonhoeffer also memorably wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” The death may not be physical (although that may be required), but it is always the death of the self to the will of God. Those called must be willing to persevere until the end in the labor to which they have been called regardless of the circumstances. This is because we are not our own; we have been bought with a price (I Cor. 6:19-20).
A great example of this comes from church history. In 1559, John Calvin began a seminary in Geneva to train young church planters. We know that Calvin sent at least eighty-eight church planters to his native country of France, possibly many more. It was dangerous to plant churches in France because of anti-Protestant sentiment. It was so dangerous that the Academy of Geneva became known as “Calvin’s School of Death” because so many graduates went out to martyrdom. If any of our seminaries today were nicknamed “The School of Death,” they would be empty!
The Role Servant Leadership Plays in Finding Your Calling
One of the questions that I most often hear from many Christians is “how can I know what God wants me to do in my life?” These questions often revolve around a change in jobs or some other important decision that they are struggling to make.
The real question is not “what does God want me to do?” but “am I willing to do anything that God asks as long as I am convicted that it is he that is asking me to do it.” Once we cross that bridge of ultimate commitment to God’s call on our lives the “what to do” becomes much clearer.
A genuinely Christian worldview is more than an intellectual collection of philosophical and religious beliefs. If it is going to affect the way we live, it must embrace both our minds and our hearts. It means as Douglas Wilson writes, “living as an obedient Christian in all of life—heart, mind, fingers, and toes.”
Paul told servants in the Colossian church,
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 (Col 3:23-24).
Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton in their book Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View offer further explanation:
All we do is to be done from a heart filled with love for God. If our lives are not an expression of our love for him, they will express rebellion against him. That is simply our religious nature as God’s image bearers. All our cultural life is subject to Yahweh’s norms, and we are called to respond to him in obedience.
Our vocational call flows out of a sacrificially committed life, marked by servant leadership and transformed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.