From Self to Service
“Whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 20:26-27 (ASV)
“Faithful servants never retire. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.” – Rick Warren
“Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service. Try to give unconditionally whatever a person needs in the moment. The point is to do something, however small, and show you care through your actions by giving your time.” – Mother Teresa
Serving is part of every true Believer’s life, right? But who are we really serving – ourselves or others? I often ask myself if I’m actually serving my neighbors, friends, or community enough. The answer is usually a resounding “no.”
I don’t think I’m alone. Aren’t we all a little too focused on our own lives and the ones we are closest to rather than the lives of all our brothers and sisters?
What we have to remember is that everyone is called by God to serve. This may be hard for some to fully appreciate. After all, few of us are pastors, or nuns, or even church leaders. How does God call us – ordinary Believers – to serve?
Pastor Rick Warren believes the answer to this question has three parts:
- First, God calls us to serve as a result of our salvation. Paul writes in Galatians 5:13 “My friends, you were chosen to be free.” God’s transforming power of salvation frees us from our own pain and shortcomings to focus on the needs of those around us.
- Second, the freedom of salvation is meant to empower us, to give us the ability to serve others rather than focus on our own needs. As Paul continues in Galatians: “Don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other.”
- Finally, the reason we serve is not from obligation. Rather, we serve out of love. Serving is not a burden or chore. Nor is it a badge of honor to show how much we can suffer. Instead, serving others is an act of living out the very life and mercy of Jesus Christ for each other. In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul describes it this way: “I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned – but if I have no love, this does me no good” (1 Corinthians 13:3).
Jesus reminds us that He did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). This is a philosophy we should all embrace. If anyone ever had the “right” to be served it was Jesus. Yet His life on earth was filled with examples of serving others.
To follow Jesus is to live a life where we are always looking for ways to meet the needs of others through our talents, gifts, and abilities. It is a lifestyle of putting others first, “giving cheerfully” as Paul describes it in 2 Corinthians 9:7, thinking not about ourselves and our own desires, but also about what others lack that we can provide.
So what are we doing to impact our communities, our schools, or our businesses through our service? Are we living our lives as Jesus commands, one in which we are not first, but last, following his example and using what we know and what we have to lift up and help everyone around us?
Who are we praying for? Who is God calling us to serve?
Let it be so in my life and also in yours!
May God continuously lead your path.