A friend said something to me a while back that got me thinking... I had started to write this post and never finished it or posted it. It's something to really chew on and think about.
My friend said this, "God did not create us to serve others, He created us to love. When we love the Lord deeply, with all our hearts, then we desire (want) to serve others. Our main calling is to love."
I've been thinking how true that statement is... and then I was hit with a very humbling thought. You can tell true Christians by how they love. Stellar thought, I know... doesn't seem real original huh? Let me elaborate on this epiphany. We, as Christians, have always claimed to love others but let's evaluate this claim.True Christians love with all their heart. They serve not complaining about having to serve. I'd like to say I never complain about serving, but I'm gonna be real honest, I do complain. There are days I just don't want to serve. My husband and I really enjoy serving in the church. We open the church every Sunday, we usher at least 2 weeks out of the month and we serve in youth every Wednesday night (which also entails extra activities on other days of the week). Honestly, I really love serving and I wouldn't give up any of these unless I felt called away by God Himself, but I really want to get something across. There are days when I get up and I don't want to unlock the church and I don't want to usher or I don't want to go to youth because I'm tired from other events going on in life... but if I really truly love God, not just think I do but really deeply truly love God with all my heart then serving would never really be serving. Serving these days is keeping tabs on the "time I serve for God" but see, am I really serving Him or am I serving the idea that I "need to serve to love God?" it should be the other way around. I love God and to show that love, I serve others without thinking "I'm serving others". Is this making sense? Let me put it another way, serving shouldn't be something where we say, "I'm serving in this area so I won't commit to any other area", serving should have no boundaries... it should be a continual everyday thing. I know it sounds impossible and exhausting, but if you balance things correctly, your heart is in the right place, and you're open to God's call on you because you love Him, you won't have to worry about burnout. As long as we love God and we're consumed by His love for us and return that love, serving isn't serving...
I know there are people who serve in even more areas in our church than even Brent and I do, and I admire that, but my question to you all (because this is a question He laid on my heart for myself) is are you doing what you're doing for the right reasons? You can't do good works to get into Heaven, so if your heart says "I have to do this because the Bible tells me I have to do good works." Then you might want to re-evaluate why you're serving. If your heart says, "Why am I doing this because no one notices the good I'm doing? I never get a compliment, no one cares about what I do." Then you might want to re-evaluate why you're serving. If your heart says, "Why do I bother serving because I don't seem to be making an impact." Then you might want to re-evaluate why you're serving. Let me elaborate.
"I have to do this because the Bible tells me I have to do good works.": This statement is incorrect. The Bible says to love the Lord your God and do good works.(paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Philippians 2:12-14) It's not one or the other. You do good works solely because you love God. Period. That's it. If you're doing it because you have to then you've missed the point and your dancing behind a mask in a parade that will eventually end. It will not uphold through the trials of life.
"Why am I doing this because no one notices the good I'm doing? I never get a compliment, no one cares about what I do." This one is really self-explanatory but I'll elaborate on this one anyways. This is solely a selfish reason for serving. If you're serving to get a pat on the back, then something in this is lacking. There are times I catch myself thinking this and I continually have to evaluate my heart and find out why I'm serving... is it for ME or is it because I love God? If it's the latter, then His praise is all I need, not everyone else's. I have to remind myself that I'm not doing it for them or for me, I'm doing it for Him because I love Him.
"Why do I bother serving because I don't seem to be making an impact." This kind of ties into the last one. You don't see anyone changing instantly in front of your eyes... or even you've been ministering to a person or a group of people for years and they never seem to change. They don't seem to hear anything you say and you get upset. They seem blind or bull-headed to your efforts to "help them see the light" but this thought process of "fixing" people and seeking that change in their lives distracts us from the damage in our own lives. This is a dangerous fence to be on... because this is where pride starts to build it's tent in our hearts. The Bible speaks of this Do not worry about the speck in your brother's eye, until you have removed the plank from your own (paraphrased from Luke 6:42) This speaks to me a lot lately. God has really started to reveal the plank in my eye and He's leveling me out. Pride is a terrible sickness and most Christians have it without realizing it... and it's the one thing no one wants to admit that is vividly in their lives... pride is a form of being judgmental.
I wrote this over a year ago. As of right now, due to present circumstances, my husband and I are not committed to any specific ministry or service but are still open to be used by the Lord wherever and whenever He needs. With schedules the way they are we cannot commit not knowing if we can follow through. But basically, to sum this post up, you serve God every day in everything you do when you love Him with your whole heart. You are not worried about who sees it, who returns the "favor" or even if it changes someone... you just want to love people the way He loves them and let Him do the rest of the work.