By the time you read this post, I’ll be in Paris, France with my mom! I’ve scheduled content to be automatically published during my trip but may not respond to comments right away.
How would you define the word servant? Here’s what the dictionary says:
- a person who performs duties for others, especially a person employed in a house on domestic duties or as a personal attendant.
- a person employed in the service of a government.
- a devoted and helpful follower or supporter (“a tireless servant of God”).
Most people would think of times gone by, where wealthy families employed others to do their house work for them. How many of you would define the word in a way that relates to the kingdom of God? Admittedly, I was surprised, and pleased, that the online dictionary I used included that third definition! Today I want to talk about being a servant of the Lord, why we should aim to serve, and how to cultivate a heart for it.
The Bible is FULL of verses on serving, but I especially like Joshua 22:5 which says “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” There’s no doubt we as Christian are to serve God, but what exactly does that mean? For me, it means to strive to honour God in all the choices I make. I make sure my actions and words reflect my faith, that I talk to God about big decisions, that I’m involved in ministry at church, etc.
In addition to serving God, we are also called to serve one another. Galatians 5:13 tells us “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Did you catch the part about being humble? So not only are we supposed to do nice thing for others, but we have to be HUMBLE while doing it! Humility in service looks like this: willingly helping out a friend move even though you would rather be watching Netflix at home or giving up your Saturday night to babysit for new parents so they can enjoy time out. Serving others isn’t always easy, so in cases where we’d rather be anywhere else doing ANYTHING besides serving, being unhappy or grumpy is often the first reaction. But we should be striving to help our brothers and sister in Christ, and those not yet in the family.
Cultivating a servant’s heart is possible, no matter how you feel about serving. It’s not necessarily an overnight fix but God will work in you if you truly desire change.
Spend time in prayer
If you want to joyfully serve others with a willing spirit, simply pray for God’s help! Ask Him to soften your heart for service, and to show you simple ways of serving (ideas further down the post).
Study the Bible
If you truly want to serve, motivate yourself by reading passages about it in the Bible. The copies David and I have contain a concordance in the back which lists all the verses mentioning the words “serve”, “servant”, and “service”, but you can easily find those online too. Write out your favourites, take a photo of it, save it as a screen saver, do whatever you can to make sure the verses stick! If you are presented with an opportunity to serve but aren’t really feeling like it, you can recite the scriptures to yourself as encouragement to say YES.
Look for ways to serve
The obvious place to start is church. If you are currently attending one you can speak to the pastor about volunteering in one of the ministries. Often these commitments are small and not time consuming, so it’s a nice way to ease into serving. You can also start small by offering to help a neighbour or family member with an errand or chore. Here are some specific ways to serve:
- babysit for new parents
- take a meal to a new neighbour
- help someone with their yard work
- set up snacks for kid’s programs at church
- help in the church nursery or classes
- hold the door open for someone
- donate gently used clothes to a worthy cause (Salvation Army, for example)
Personally, I enjoy serving! It’s one of my spiritual gifts and I’ve been cultivating it since I was very young. At my childhood church I was often asked to help with one kids program or another, and that continued all the way through high school until I switched congregations. There was rarely an opportunity I said “no” to! Being willing to serve or to do tasks that maybe nobody else wants to (organize the Sunday School supply room, for example!) is a great thing that will show people you have a humble relationship with the Lord. Be the kind of person your friends, family, and church can depend on, and strive to find new ways to serve. But remember: it’s okay to pass on opportunities if it’s beyond your abilities or if you are truly unable to commit.