Text: Philippians 2:1-11 | Listen to Message
It’s the stat that’s been recirculated at seminaries and pastors’ conferences probably since the days of Peter, James, and John: 10% of the people in your churches will do all of the serving, and the other 90% will do nothing.
True enough. Some people will never serve the local church, no matter what. Their idea of “church” is occasionally showing up to “get fed.” They’re consumers of religious programs, events, and experiences, but not servants of Jesus Christ.
But I believe there’s a whole group of believers who want to serve in some meaningful way, they just don’t know where or how. For you, I want to offer a word of motivation, opportunity, and inquisitiveness.
You probably already know that religious motivation often sounds something like, “You should be ashamed of yourself! When are you ever going to serve some of the needs around here?” Religion pushes people around with a sense of duty and obligation. Guilt gets results, but it doesn’t inspire anyone.
The Bible itself motivates our acts of service with the Gospel. The Apostle Paul puts it like this in the opening verses of Philippians 2: “Think about how you’ve experienced the encouragement and comfort of God’s perfect love! Look at how you’ve enjoyed the presence and power of the Spirit! Consider all the ways you’ve benefitted from the mercy and compassion of Jesus! Now let that love flow through you in service to others!”
Grace supplants guilt and replaces it with gratitude. It replaces duty with delight. It grounds the obligations of the Gospel in the declarations of the Gospel. “You’ve been served by the King of kings. Now go find purposeful service in, through, and for him.”
Look for both standing and spontaneous needs. Standing needs are core ministry areas where things are always happening so that a church can fulfill its God-given mission and mandates. Grace City currently has nine of these teams (see here), and we encourage every regular attender to participate in at least one of them.
Spontaneous needs are those that arise in the moment. A friend has surgery, or loses a job, or suffers a miscarriage. Another needs a ride, or a few hours of childcare, or just a word of encouragement. Here’s the question, though: Do you intentionally create margins in your schedule so that you can meet spontaneous needs with some degree of regularity?
Good listening is a prerequisite to effective serving. This means humble servants ask a lot of questions. I’ll suggest just two:
First, ask, “What do you need? How can I help you?”
Nothing is obvious unless it’s happening to you. This means if you have needs, don’t get angry or sullen because people don’t know how to help you. Chances are, if they haven’t been through what you’re going through, they don’t have any idea what you need until you tell them. Be patient – and willing to share.
If you want to help people, don’t assume you know what they’re going through or what they need. Don’t barge in and act like a know-it-all. Service begins with empathy and compassion, which is developed by taking a posture of a learner.
Second, ask, “How does God want to use me?”
God has given you a mix of gifts and abilities that are unique to you. When you add in your passions, interests, personality, and experiences, you have something to offer the church that only you can offer. We are all members of Christ’s body, but an ear serves differently than a foot, a kidney, or a heart valve. So a good principle to keep in mind is this: Have the willingness to do anything and the wisdom to focus on something. As family, we often serve in ways that aren’t anybody’s “sweet spot.” But it’s important to balance doing whatever needs to be done and focusing your time and resources on doing the few things that only you can do.