This past Sunday we heard a message on Volunteering within the church. Serving each other.
Sure, we always need more volunteers, more hands to help “do church” and more people willing to step up. But there are lots of reasons (see excuses) that we don’t step up to serve within the church.
The thing is this…we are all called to serve. Every last one of us, whether we really want to or not.
5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
We are called to serve God. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus paid the penalty (death) that we all deserve as a result of our sin. We deserve death and life away from God. God can not bear to be in the presence of sin. He hates it. And nothing we can do will “earn” our way back into His presence. There is no way we can ever be good enough. But God loves us, so He sent Jesus to pay the penalty of our sin. Once we believe in Him and trust Him as our savior we are assured eternal life in Heaven with our God. Because of this wonderful sacrifice we should want to serve Him and those around us. Serving God means we are obedient to Him and what He has called us to do. It means we honor one another, we seek to do God’s will and seek to bring Him glory in all we do.
The Bible lists lots of spiritual gifts, but the one thing we are all called to do is to serve. It’s not optional. This can be a tough pill to swallow sometimes. We all may have a different gift, but sometimes those gifts are big labels we hide behind. We don’t want to serve in a certain ministry or with a specific group of people because we don’t think it’s our “gift”. Are some people better teachers than others…probably, but does that mean we shouldn’t try or be willing to step up and try to learn or even help? Definitely not.
I’ve been pondering lately why people are hesitant to serve within the church or community. I think one of the reasons is that we don’t know how or where to serve. There’s this thing in church…it’s the untrue belief that those who are coming to church have it all figured out, life is all roses and we don’t need help with anything. Let me tell you nothing is further from the truth. Every person sitting in church has problems, most of us have a colorful or at least semi-colorful past and none of us have life figured out. But it’s this belief that we’re supposed to have it down that keeps us from telling others when we need something. The truth is though, when we’re unwilling to ask for help, when we’re unwilling to be real with those around us…we are robbing others of the opportunity to serve us and we’re missing a blessing. We’re too busy being proud. So we need to be willing to ask for help and we also need to be willing to look around for ways to serve those around us. Keeping our heads up, our ears open and our mouths shut helps us find ways to serve others. We hear someone say that they’re going on vacation for a week…can we serve them by mowing their lawn while they’re gone? Look around…there are lots of places to serve.
Another reason we’re hesitant to serve is we’re afraid. We’re afraid of what someone else might think of us. When we’re serving God, what man thinks should mean very little to us but let’s be honest…we’re all a little afraid of what everyone around us thinks. When I first started playing drums in worship band I was paralyzed by this fear. Could I play drums? Yes. Was I the best? No, but I could do it. Did I like playing? Yep. But why then, did I not want to play on Sunday morning, why did I nearly faint from panic for the first several months I played? Because I was afraid…I was afraid that I would mess up that I wouldn’t hold the beat and that people would talk. I was afraid of what the worship leader was going to think of me and what the congregation was going to think of me. It wasn’t until several months in to it and I’d messed up a couple times (which I totally agonized over for the rest of the week) that I realized what they thought didn’t really matter. I was going to do my best, but I wasn’t there for them. I was there because I had a talent that God had given me, our church had a need and I was called to serve. And better yet, even though I’d messed up, my church still loved me. They didn’t even bat an eye really…we might have gotten a little off beat but we made it through and no one disowned me.
And I’ll tell you, those fears are from satan. He wants nothing more than to keep you from serving your church, your community and those around you. It’s sinful to succumb to that fear and to let it keep you from being obedient to Christ.
Perhaps the most touchy reason we don’t want to serve is because we are too caught up in our own self to be of much service to anyone else. We are selfish, we like to think of how others should be serving us, how uncomfortable serving others might make us and to be honest we are too proud to really do it.
Sometime we think a job is beneath us. I don’t know very many people who enjoy scrubbing toilets, changing diapers or even mowing the lawn. But all of these things can be ways we serve each other. Is there a spiritual gift named in the Bible for changing diapers? No. But I will tell you, to the mother who is able to sit in worship because someone else is willing to care for her children for an hour, it is a gift. A few weeks ago, someone served me in the most unglorious way I can think of. Titus got sick and barfed at the end of the buffet line during a fellowship meal. I was holding Zeb and chatting with someone and had no idea what happened. By the time Gabe came to get me and let me know, one of the fathers in church had cleaned up after Titus and scrubbed the carpet. I was humbled (and embarrassed). The dad was most gracious and willing to serve our family in that way. And I’ll tell you it wasn’t the first time someone willingly, and believe it or not, cheerfully cleaned up after one of our children got sick in church.
Sometimes we just don’t want to serve others (insert two year old whiny voice here). Tough. I went to church with a lady who didn’t particularly enjoy leading children’s worship. She enjoys kids but she doesn’t really dig serving in this way, but she does it anyway and the children are none the wiser. She does it because she has the ability and she is being obedient to God’s call to serve. She puts on a smile and teaches every couple of months. And her smile isn’t fake, it is real because she is cheerfully serving God and not man.
When I used to sing on worship team there were some weeks that I didn’t care for a song or two we were singing. It wasn’t that I couldn’t sing it but rather I didn’t care for it, it wasn’t my style. But I also knew there was a lady in our congregation that really enjoyed the song. It was one of her favorites. So we sang it. We were able, we were called and we were obedient. Had we decided to avoid singing it because we didn’t care for it we would have been selfish and would have denied her ability to be blessed by worship that morning. Sometimes we have to bite the bullet and choose to serve how God calls us to serve and not how we would rather do it. We should joyfully serve Him and look for ways to bless others…even if it’s on our “less than desirable” list.
Serving isn’t just about doing stuff, it’s about ministering to one another. It requires us to be humble. We have to be willing to swallow our pride, serve where, when and how we are able. Serving isn’t about getting glory and recognition for ourselves, it’s about bringing glory to God. I think you can glorify God by cleaning toilets as easily as you can by feeding the poor.
Service to others is a part of loving one another within and outside of the church. It’s part of building relationships with others. We are much more likely to have a genuine relationship with someone when we are willing to serve them and look for ways to do so.
Learning how to serve takes time. We can’t just have one lesson on it during a sermon, or Sunday school or even during Life group and expect it to take hold. It’s something we have to cultivate every day and every moment we’re together. Teaching your children how to serve can be as simple as helping them learn to hold doors open for those around them. It teaches them to be aware of the needs of others and meet those needs. We do it when we don’t want to, when we’re grumpy and when we’re already frustrated. But…we are called to do it. We do it because God asks us to. And as we serve others, we find that we’re blessed as well.
So I would challenge you…how can you serve those around you? Are you listening to what people are saying about where their needs are? Do you have the ability to do something to serve others, even if it’s something you’re not thrilled about doing? The question really is…How’s your serve these days?