A habit that I’ve noticed in some of the most effective Christians is the habit of service. Most people who have this habit are not noticeable until they are gone. They give of their time and energy, but prefer to stay behind the scenes. They are rarely recognized because they don’t require public praise. They do what they do because it’s what God has called them to. They recognize that for big things to happen, there’s a lot of little things that need to be done behind the scenes.
Jesus told us that the ones who do these little things with an humble spirit are the greatest in His kingdom. In Matthew 23:11-12 Jesus said, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty” (MSG). Jesus modeled what it was like to be a servant to others. He spent His life giving instead of taking. He did things to recognize God, not to be recognized. When you live a life of service in a selfish world, you stand out.
Look at the life of Mother Theresa. She spent it serving people who had no ability to pay her back or offer her any recognition. She once said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” I believe that’s the key to the habit of service. Understanding it’s not about doing big things. It’s about the little things that few see. It’s about doing something for someone without posting it on social media. It’s done out of a heart of love for someone in need.
I believe if all Christians would take the time to develop this one habit, we could change the world. If we did things for His recognition instead of our own, we’d have a lot more converts. A life of service yields great results in the kingdom. It’s marked by looking out for the needs of others more than our own. Take time today to look for someone you can serve in some small capacity. Make a difference in their life today and you’ll understand why it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
When someone on stage asks for a volunteer, are you quick to raise your hand? Not me. Maybe because I ask for volunteers in my job, and it usually involves that person having to do a role play in front of a room full of people. In several cases, the volunteer is used as a deficit learning exercise to show that they are lacking the skill I’m about to train. Yet, when I ask for a volunteer, people usually raise their hands.
Of course, if no one raises their hand, I say, “If I don’t have any volunteers, someone is going to get volun-told!” That’ll usually get at least someone, but they’re pretty skeptical. For me, I don’t like to volunteer unless I know what I’m volunteering for. If I know, I don’t mind raising my hand usually. I just like to know what I’m getting into. But if someone is just looking for a volunteer, and there’s no reason given, I’m not your guy.
In Isaiah 6, he describes being in Heaven and realizing how small and sinful he is. After an angel touches his lips with coal to purify him, God starts talking to the assembly of heavenly beings. In verse 8 he hears the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” Then he said, “Here I am. Send me” (NLT). Can you imagine it? God was looking across Heaven for a volunteer, and Isaiah speaks up.
I believe God is still looking for volunteers. Sometimes, like Isaiah, it’s to carry His message. Other times it may be just to encourage someone. Sometimes it’s to buy a meal for someone. Even if you don’t know what you’re volunteering for, I believe we should all be willing to pray, “Lord, I know you need volunteers today to make yourself known. I want you to know I am here and available. Pick me.”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand busy work. I hate being given a task just for the sake of having something to do. I see it as a waste of time rather than a time filler. Nothing truly productive comes from it. I’d rather save my energy, brain power and time doing nothing rather than doing meaningless tasks. Whether it’s at work, home or wherever, we’ve all been given busy work since we were kids.
Sometimes doing things for God feels like busy work. I can’t see the purpose behind doing what He’s asked, so it feels like busy work. Whether it’s busy work or not, I obey because it’s God who is asking. Many times it’s simply to go somewhere, pick someone up, say something to someone, serve at an event or something like it. When I don’t get to see the impact or reason, it can feel like busy work to me.
I was discussing this with one of my pastor friends recently. Then I recalled a couple of events that really I could barely remember doing, but the people I helped acted as if I had saved their life. The “busy work” on my part had a significant meaning to the person God was directing it toward. It was a great reminder that often what we do for God may feel like busy work at times to us, but to others, it’s life changing stuff.
Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15:58, “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless” (GNT). If you’re feeling like God has given you a lot of busy work lately, take heart. Nothing you do for Him is useless. It’s not a waste of your time, talents or resources. Often you’re changing lives without even knowing it. God doesn’t give out busy work to keep us occupied. He gives us work that we’re to stay busy at because eternity is at stake.
Have you ever had a craving, drove across town to get to the restaurant, walk in, and have them tell you the kitchen us closed? I hate it when that happens. It’s worse if you’ve pulled into the parking lot, are walking up to the door, and they flip the sign to “closed” while looking at you. You just want one thing. It won’t take long, but they tell you to come back tomorrow. How does that make you feel? Angry? Disappointed? Frustrated? Sad? Lots of emotions come to mind.
The problem is, that person had the ability to satisfy your craving, but not the will. They could have gone above and beyond for a good customer like yourself, and just let you run in and get it. But they didn’t. They withheld it from you and you have to wait. When that happens, I almost want to do a personal boycott because I let my emotions get the better of me. But at the be of the day, it was just a food item I wanted. It wasn’t life or death. It won’t make or break me if I don’t get it.
Imagine someone who needs something that really will make or break them. Imagine that they need this thing to keep afloat, and you have what they need. Imagine you told them to come back tomorrow because you were busy. This isn’t a craving they’re trying to get a fix for. This is a real life, make or break situation, and you were as aloof to them as that person who looked at you and flipped the sign to close. Remember how you were feeling when they did that for a craving? Multiply that feeling for that person.
God puts people in our path each day who desperately need our help, but we are too busy to see them or too nonchalant to care. We have the opportunity daily to be God’s hands, but we rarely open them. Proverbs 3:27-28 says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, ‘Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you’” (NLT). God’s desire is that we keep our sign turned to “open” when it comes to helping others.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28 (NLT)
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One of the great mysteries that guys wonder about is why do we get fine China when we never use it. It sits in a cabinet for years never being used. It looks good. It’s expensive. It’s on display for all to see. When are we ever going to use it? On special occasions is what we’re told. Those rarely come about, so those plates just sit there. They’re waiting to be used. They’re perfectly capable of being used, but they’re on display. They rarely reach their potential.
What we end up using are our daily plates. They cost a lot less, but get used often. They’re pulled out of a cabinet that you can’t see through, they’re used for every meal, washed and hidden again. These plates earn their keep and are always reaching their potential. Constantly being used for every day use. That’s the way I want to be used by God.
Some people are like fine China. They look good, they’re on display for all the world to see, but they are rarely used by God. I think it’s mainly because they think they’re fragile and stay in a place locked up and away from where they can reach their potential. Being used by God is messy business. You get dirty. You need to be washed often. A lot of us don’t like that so we stay away from situations where we can be used all the time.
I’m not like that. I don’t mind being hidden and out of sight as long as God can use me daily. I realize that it means I’ll need to be washed by the Word often. It also means that Im in that place of full potential where God sees fit to use me for His every day purposes. It may not be glamorous and it may not get much attention from outside of those that are being helped, but I’m being used for what I was made for.
I guess it boils down to what we’re content with. Are we content by being on display and never used for our purpose or are we content when we’re being used by God? If it’s the latter, are we placing ourselves where He can best use us? Are we willing to get dirty doing His work? Do we mind that it’s not glamorous or a special occasion? If not, then chances are we will be used by Him. It just won’t garner a lot of praise from others. You’re doing what you were created to do. Serve.
Each one of us has a purpose. We have a destiny to fulfill. There are things in this world that God needs accomplished and only you can do it. Your experiences and the things you’ve gone through were allowed and designed by God to prepare you for your purpose. Instead of looking at those times in your life as hindrances to your purpose, embrace them as preparation for your purpose. Be who God made you to be and put yourself on the table to be used by God for your every day potential.
Have you ever been in the situation where someone asked for a volunteer and no one offered? Or have you ever seen someone in need and said, “Someone should help them”? It happens all the time. When that happens at work and someone gets chosen for the job, we say, “You just got volun-told!” When someone gets volun-told, they usually aren’t happy about it and rarely put their best effort forward.
Have you ever been volun-told by God? I have a few times. I start to pray for someone and God says, “You go help.” I start looking for excuses why I can’t help. I don’t know if it’s humorous to God or if it frustrates Him. I’m willing to pray for someone, but I’m not ready to be the answer to that prayer. Why? It’s the same reason any of don’t want to. It means we have to get involved.
What we don’t think about is that the moment we pray for someone else, we get involved. We are asking God to move on their behalf and are putting ourself in service. At work we also say that you can’t point out a problem unless you come up with a solution. It doesn’t have to be the right solution, but it needs to show that you are looking for a way to make it better. I don’t know that God needs our solutions to problems, but He does need us to be a part of the solution.
We are not here just to take and keep the good things God gives to us. We are to take those things and reinvest them. What God gives us is not our own. We are merely stewards of it. Whatever God has given you, it is to be used to be the solution for someone else, not just for your benefit. Our faith requires action. Yes, prayer is action. Yes, God can do the miraculous and provide supernaturally. Why would I want Him to do that and rob myself of the blessing of being used by Him to provide?
God doesn’t need you or I to do things in this world. He chooses to offer us opportunities to volunteer though. Are we too busy to be Jesus to someone today? Are we so caught up doing things for ourselves that we fail to do things for someone else? Jesus said when we do things for others, we’re doing it to Him, even if it is a cup of water. We get blinded into thinking that volunteering means long term commitment. Sometimes it is, but other times it’s just handing a cup of water to someone.
James 2:16 asks what good is it if you tell someone to stay warm and eat well and then don’t give that person any food or clothes. In essence that is what we are doing when we are willing to pray for someone without being willing to be that answer to prayer. Who is it in your path that needs you to be their answer? What can you do to give a “cup of water” to someone today? Are you waiting to be volun-told or will you receive the blessing by saying “Here am I, send me” like Isaiah?