Spiritual Discipline 101: Serving
Have you ever considered serving as a spiritual discipline? I realize it may be easy to think of serving coupled with stewardship, but there is a distinction between the two. Stewardship focuses more on how we manage and govern our gifts (time, talents, and treasures). Serving focuses more on our attitude and motive for doing the works we show up to perform. In our final month this year of focusing on Spiritual Disciplines, for the month of October, I have decided to blog about the spiritual discipline of serving.
Understanding Jesus is our perfect example, we see throughout the Gospels how he took the time to serve God by serving people. Jesus was clear about his mission on earth, and he wanted to fulfill the will of the Father by living out His purpose. We too have God-ordained purposes to fulfill as we accomplish our earthly mission. Ultimately, that mission should be in response to the Great Commission Jesus shared with His disciples before ascending back to heaven.
As Christ followers, it is our desire to serve others so that all may come to know Jesus and be saved through Him from sin into eternal life. Luke 19:10 (NIV) tells us, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” We see Jesus doing this as He served people. How? He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, caused the deaf to hear, cast out demons from those tormented, washed His disciples feet, and performed countless miracle of healing for those afflicted and needing signs and wonders in their specific situations.
Maybe your serving gifts are not as public as Jesus’ were, but that does not mean they are any less powerful. God calls us to serve faithfully, as unto Him. Colossians 3:23 (CSB) says, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not people.” We do this when we serve holding a microphone in the pulpit, holding a dishtowel in the church kitchen, holding a baby in the nursery ministry, holding a track while witnessing on the evangelism team, or holding the door open as a greeter while others enter the sanctuary to worship.
Serving is not just about what we do in the four walls of the church, although nothing can replace the ministry we do in our local assemblies of worship. We serve when we do unnoticed tasks and chores to enrich the lives of our families. We serve when support our sister-friend by being a Godly girlfriend and serving her in ways that are most needed and matter the most. We serve when we make the time for a perfect stranger and go out of our way to show them the love and light of God in a tangible or practical way, just like Jesus did when He multiplied fish and bread to feed the masses.
In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney identifies six biblical motives for serving:
1. Motivated by Obedience (We serve because we want to obey God’s Word to serve.)
2. Motivated by Gratitude (We serve because we are grateful for all the Lord has done, is doing, and will do for us.)
3. Motivated by Gladness (We serve in joy because it is our privilege, not burden to do so).
4. Motivated by Forgiveness (We serve because we are already forgiven and redeemed, not from a place of guilt to obtain forgiveness.)
5. Motivated by Humility (We serve because nothing is too big or small to do and we don’t expect anything in return)
6. Motivated by Love (We serve because we love God first and it compels us to love others.)
The discipline aspect of serving is important because serving is not always glamorous or convenient. This is why it’s important to often reflect and engage in self-evaluation of our motives for serving. Why do we do the things we do? If it does not ultimately lead us and those around us back to Calvary and how we do our part to demonstrate His love, then we may need to re-evaluate our motives and deal with the matters of our heart. We want to have clean hands, clean hearts, the right attitude and the right spirit as we serve with pure motives.