How Do We Serve?

We have seen over the last few articles the Bible’s teaching on serving Him. Last time we answered the question of why we should serve. In this article we will look at how we should serve Him. God’s word has taught us that He commands His followers to serve and yet the reason is our love for Him, not just because He commands it. But now what? How do we go about this? What is the first step? Is there a first step? Maybe you have been serving but how you serve is all wrong. Is there a right and wrong way to service? As long as you help out in some way, that’s all that matters...right? 

If you currently serve, why do you serve where you do? What is the reason for where you are serving? Why not somewhere else? Is it because you like serving where you are right now? Because there was a need? Because you were asked? Because you were frustrated no one else was doing it? Because you felt there was nothing else you could do? Because it is easy? Because people can notice your work? Because you're shy and you don’t want people to notice your service? There are a lot of reasons as to where you serve or how you serve. But what are the Biblical reasons for how you go about serving? What does the Bible teach about serving in nursery as opposed to on the worship team? Does it say anything? Does God care where you serve as long as you are? Better than nothing, right? Well, He does care. In fact He cares so much He gave you a gift pertaining to your service. The answer to the question of “How or where do I serve?” is by your spiritual gift.

The Bible is very clear that everyone who is saved receives a spiritual gift(s) (1 Peter 4:10). Everyone receives different gifts according to God’s perfect will for us (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:11). It is not to be confused with talent. Being talented is a gift from God but is separate from a spiritual gift. Playing an instrument or being a great public speaker are not spiritual gifts. The reason God gives His children these gifts is to serve others in His church (1 Corinthians 12:7). They are not for your benefit. A spiritual gift is not for self indulgence or for your own spiritual edification. You are to discover your gift and then apply it in serving His church, in serving others. To put it another way, you receive this gift from God but it is other people who benefit from it. 

What are the gifts? The bible lists the following: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, mercy, word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues, healings, helps, administrating and diversities of tongues (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28). Also in Ephesians 4 we are told of the offices that God may call people to, but they are not general spiritual gifts. Some of these gifts are no longer distributed by the spirit but were for the time of when the church began. It was for a time when the Bible was not completed. Regardless, everyone of us has at least one of these gifts listed. You may not believe it, but it is true. They may seem beyond your capacity of service, but that is ok. These are spiritual gifts, not physical abilities.

Now you will notice that these gifts don’t really translate to the jobs we serve in church. Serving in the nursery, being a greeter or church treasurer are not listed and are therefore not spiritual gifts. Does this mean we are wrong to serve in those areas? Not at all. What it does mean is that we may be approaching or viewing our service incorrectly. Oftentimes we look to serving in the church as a job or as specific tasks. We tell ourselves, “Oh, I can do that.” or “This is something easy I can do.” maybe “That is someplace that I could help in.” But we mustn't  look at the task. We should not focus on the job. Our focus should be on our spiritual gift or else it is possible to serve where He has not called you. We need to find out our spiritual gift and then look at how we will practically apply it in service. So for instance, working in the nursery is not a spiritual gift. Yet, service is a spiritual gift and helping out in the nursery is how you can use that gift. Or being a church treasurer is not a spiritual gift. But if you have the gift of administration, then you can employ that gift by being the church treasurer. Does this distinction really matter? Yes it does! Because how you serve is by the use of your gift. If not, then you are serving under your own power and not the Spirit’s. By looking at the job itself and not your gift then you could easily serve where you want and not where God has called you. If it is not by your spiritual gift, then your service is not in accordance with His will for your life. He has work planned out ahead of time for your life (Ephesians 2:10). If you are serving as a greeter but your spiritual gift is teaching, then you are not serving where God has called you. Or if help is needed in visitation, so you serve there but your gift is administration, then you need to alter your role to serve with your gift. You may like to be a greeter because it’s easy and fun and you want to play your part. Yet if your spiritual gift is leadership, then you should be looking to lead a ministry. 
Does that mean you never help out if there is a need? No. I’m just saying your primary focus should always be employing your spiritual gift. If you are doing that and there are other things you can do that can help out that is fine. We should always start with our spiritual gift and we often don’t. Does that mean that if you can’t use your spiritual gift you don’t have to serve? No. That would be disobeying God’s command for us to serve (see the first article). A Lot of the gifts can be employed in a lot of different ways in the body of Christ. Also, what if God wants you to start a new ministry to use said gift? Maybe that is your answer. Your spiritual gift should never be a reason to not serve. If you think this, then you are also looking at it the wrong way.

How you serve is by the power of the Holy Spirit through the gift He has given you. One of the reasons you may be frustrated, tired, exacerbated or unhappy in your service is because you are doing it all on your own! Plus you are serving where God has not called you. You are not serving with a reliance/dependence on His power. You are not serving where He has called you to serve. And who would know better about what is best for you and your service? This would naturally lead to the question of “How do I know my spiritual gift?” That is a great question and one that will be answered in the next article.

To summarize what we have learned so far; you are to serve Him, in His church, by the power of His Spirit, through the gift He has given you, because you love your fellow christians as yourself and love Him more than anything else.  More to come next article.

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