The act of service

Years back, I remember being asked by one of the pastors in my church if I would like to serve in a capacity that would include a certain level of leadership responsibility.  Along with that position, I would be given a title as well as some tasks to carry out in our church body.  Being given a new opportunity to serve the Lord in ways I never had before was both humbling and frightening. 

Would I live up to the standards of those who had served before me?  Would I be effective or would I fall flat on my face?  What would my senior pastor think?

Reflecting back on those times, I have come to realize that serving God and ministering to others is really an opportunity for us to reflect our love back to the Savior who brought us into His kingdom through His work on the cross.  In other words, if Christ loved me so much that He was willing to die for me on the cross, my next question should be, “Lord, what can I do for you?” In an age where serving the Lord can resemble something other than the teachings of the Bible, Jesus remains the ultimate example of ministering to the needs of others.

But first, let’s examine some of the wrong motives for serving others.  Consider the following self-diagnostic questions:  With respect to others, do we serve to be seen and praised by others? 

Speaking to those readers who may be single, do we use our service as a platform to be noticed by the opposite sex?  With respect to ourselves, are we serving to feel good about ourselves and our own sense of self-righteousness apart from God’s grace?  With respect to talent, are we serving in a certain capacity because we think we could never be as useful to God anywhere else? 

On the flip side, are we serving in a certain role because we believe that we are best suited to fill that position?  Are we prone to take credit for the gifts and talents God has given us?  With respect to tasks, do we feel that there are certain assignments that are “beneath” us?  Are we willing to step out of our “comfort zone” and serve in ways to which we are not accustomed?  Do we believe a certain task “belongs only to us”?  The answers to these questions will give you some idea of how you view service.  I have certainly wrestled with them myself.

What attitudes should a servant of the Lord have?  There are a handful of Christ-like attitudes that we should embrace while ministering to others.  The following additional questions will help illustrate these attitudes in our own minds.  First, is our attitude such that we are willing to serve where, when, and how God, our King, wants us to serve?  In His ranks, there is no room for self-appointed tasks that run contrary to His will.  In fact, to elevate a task above the desires of God is likely a form of idolatry!  Second, are we making an eternal difference in the lives of those with whom we come into contact?  As I am getting ready to serve others, I like to ask the Lord to place me in exactly those areas and circumstances where I can impact even just one person for His glory.  Third, do we see our act of service from an eternal perspective or from an earthly perspective?  God may have you serving in an area which, for all practical purposes, looks like a waste of time.  From His perspective, however, He has actually strategically placed you there because He knows that you are the very best person to carry out the task He wants done.  Fourth, are we serving with a genuinely humble and flexible attitude, or with a false humility that secretly glows from the praise of others?  I am increasingly amazed at the profound humility with which Jesus approached others.  He never insisted on having His own way, nor did He look for the applause or accolades of others.  I often wonder, more from curiosity than criticism, at how often people are more interested in their own purpose than God’s. 

In conclusion, how do we become equipped to better serve the Lord?  Our service to the Lord can become increasingly effective in a few key ways.  First, read, study, and meditate on the Bible.  Paul instructed Timothy on the value of God’s word to make him more effective in Life (2 Tim. 3:16).  The second key to serving others is prayer.  Through prayer, our minds are aligned with God’s, especially after spending time on the Bible, and we sense His will in different circumstances.  A third component of effective service is being filled and anointed with the Lord’s power.  The book of Acts records numerous instances where the apostles and others were anointed and “baptized” with God’s power.  God’s Spirit anointed the apostles, not for purposes of shallow showmanship or gaudy displays of senseless enthusiasm, but for the ability to discern and carry out God’s specific directions in each Life situation.  Baptism and receiving God’s Spirit is perhaps one of the most overlooked blessings in serving the Lord.  With this blessing comes wisdom, discernment, and grace, just as Christ had; anything unlike Christ is not of God’s Spirit.  A fourth component is found in the first few verses of 2 Peter 1:1-8.  There, Peter outlines certain attitudes that we should seek to cultivate personally if we are to become increasingly effective in our knowledge of Christ.  He writes that by growing in “self-control,” “perseverance,” and “brotherly love,” we can be assured of always being an effective vessel by which God can pour out His blessing on others (vs. 8).

By considering what it means to serve the Lord and others, I do hope that your desire to serve Him has grown!  The Lord has special assignments that you, of all people, are best equipped and gifted to carry out.  Seek His will for where you may serve Him next!

Allen can be reached at [email protected].

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