I think it’s good to begin with the biblical idea that every Christian is saved to serve. Some will serve inside the church as paid staff, but most will wind up serving outside the church in their God-given vocation. I believe that every regular church attender should both serve in the church and outside the church. The three key New Testament passages about serving are I Corinthians 12, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4. Our teaching pastor said last week that “Saved People Serve People.” I agree with that. There are lots of ways to serve.
In this post I would like to open up a dialogue around “why” we serve—what is the driver, the foundation, the reason we serve?
It seems to me that there are at lease three reasons to serve.
1. Out of gifting
2. Out of training
3. Out of obedience
The three passages of Scripture I mentioned above speak to the gifting issue. There is no such thing as an ungifted Christian. Every Christian has one or more spiritual gift that would fit them for some form of service.
Second, we can receive training to be able to serve in some capacity, even if we don’t have spiritual gifts in a certain area. It would be ill-advised for someone to say, I can’t help with Sunday morning set up because I don’t have the gift of helps. You don’t have to have the gift of helps to help (you can be trained and learn how to help) just as you don’t need to have the gift of evangelism to share the gospel with a friend.
Sometimes not serving because you don’t think you have the necessary gift can be just an excuse not to jump in and do what you can. I believe that the majority of your serving time should be in the area of gifting, but this would not negate you helping from time to time in an area in which you don’t believe you are gifted.
Then there is the obedience factor. When God taps you or me on the shoulder, making it clear He wants us to step up and step in to serve, obeying that “Tap” that “Call” from Him trumps gifting and training. He will make us fit and able to obey his calling to do something. By obeying, you and I just might discover that we are gifted, but would only find out by stepping out in faithful obedience to His prompting and then receive the appropriate training.
I love 2 Thessalonians 1:11 in The Message:
“Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray He’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with His own energy so that it all amounts to something.”
If He is calling you to serve in some way, He will make you fit and able by His Spirit to do it. He will give you good ideas, inspire acts of faith and fill you with His energy so that good things happen which honor Him.
I recall a number of years ago a co-worker commented to me that he believed I was doing certain things, not because I was naturally good at it, but because I was trained to know how to do it. He was partially right. The bottom-line reason I was doing it was out of obedience to the Holy Spirit. I want to cultivate the habit of responding to His revealed will to me whether I feel like it or not—out of sheer love for all He’s done for me.
If He’s asking me to serve in some way, he will fit me and equip me to do it well. I’m not saying gifting and training are not important, but I am saying that obedience is more important. Over the years I have discovered gifting by just stepping into something at His bidding. If I had waited until I was 100% sure I was gifted or felt adequately trained, I might still be waiting!