So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 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.”
When you think about serving others, what are some of the first thoughts and feelings that you have? Be honest.
Have you ever had someone do something for you that you could not do for yourself or did not want to do? Think about this for a minute and then write down an example.
Acts of service can be life-changing. We can reach out to someone, physically or emotionally, during their time of need and rescue them from a dangerous or even life-threatening situation. At the time, we may not realize the gravity of the situation, but our act of service may actually save their life.
Have you every gone through an emotionally draining time where depression set in and you could see no way out? During that time, did a friend perhaps reach out to you, sharing words of encouragement that were just what you needed to hear? That is an example of an act of service that can change a life and put a struggling person back on the road to recovery and wholeness.
Wherever you are in life, you likely have amazing examples of acts of service that others have performed for your benefit. Some helped you move, others paid a bill when you couldn’t, and still others babysat your kids so you and your spouse could go out; the examples are too numerous to record. Serving others matters. As Christians, we want both to declare and to demonstrate the gospel. Of course, we want to tell people about Jesus, but in our culture, talk is cheap. People respond to action. We demonstrate the amazing love of Jesus through serving others.
To understand this better, we look to Jesus Himself. Scripture talks about Jesus as the Son of God who came to serve mankind by doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. You may ask, “What is it that we cannot do?” We can neither save nor transform ourselves. Jesus gave His life so that we could be all we were created to be as sons and daughters of God. In Philippians 2, Paul tells us that Jesus literally emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave (or bondservant), even to the point of death on a cross.
What would motivate Him to do such a thing? Love and mission. Jesus lived with purpose, and that purpose was motivated by the great love of the heavenly Father. Jesus knew what He was sent to do and what was at stake. He was to bring glory to God by redeeming His chosen people, and all of this was motivated by love (John 3:16).
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was distraught about what He was about to endure (Matthew 26). Nevertheless, He prayed to the Father, “Your will be done.” Love and mission motivated His service. This is known as “missional living.” This does not mean that we wear ourselves out doing everything anyone asks of us; rather, it is living and reaching out to others on purpose, out of a missional lifestyle and out of love for others. Ultimately, all acts of service point us back to the servant of all—Jesus.
Are you actively serving others in your daily life? If so, what motivates you to serve people? If you are not serving others, think about your life’s mission. What might motivate you to reach out to a certain group of people (children, widows, the homeless, your neighbors, the cashier at your favorite coffee shop, your classmates, etc.)? Do you experience God’s love in and through you as you serve? If not, ask Him for His love. He will give generously.
You may be wondering about ways you could serve. It’s simple, really. Start by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a need that a person or an organization may have, and then ask God to put love in your heart for that person or for the mission of that organization. As you see the need, step in to help.
It is important to note that not every “need” needs you. What does that mean? Well, you have special gifts and talents. As you grow in Christ and discover these gifts and talents, you will be able to tap in to these gifts and use them to serve others. When your talents and gifts connect with an actual need, fulfillment occurs in a way that is hard to describe.
In essence, service is both outreach and attitude. Events and outreaches are great. But it is the attitude of service—the missional-living mentality mentioned earlier—that helps you recognize and respond to serving opportunities outside of an event or outreach. It may be cooking for a new mom, mowing a widow’s yard, paying for the coffee of the person in line after you, or something similar. An attitude of service motivated by love and mission will help you see the outreach in every moment of life.
While serving is simple in theory, a few roadblocks do exist. Simply put, selfishness often gets in the way. Many times we don’t feel like serving because it disturbs our rhythm of life. Pride can also get in the way. We may feel like certain acts of service are beneath us, thinking someone else should do them. Interestingly, kids can also be a roadblock. We can use our kids as an excuse: They have practice, they cannot go to a homeless outreach, there would be no one to look after them if we greeted people during a Sunday service, etc. Our advice is that you identify what you can do with your kids and then do it. Get your kids hooked on a life of serving others, and teach them about loving people and living missionally.
What roadblocks are preventing you from serving others and living missionally?
Take a moment and demolish those roadblocks. Once you experience the joy of serving, your life will change. You will begin to experience the reality of Jesus in a different, amazing way. Our invitation to you is find a need and dive in! Below are a couple simple ways to do this:
- Plug in and serve at Family Life. Many in our church family serve during Wednesday and Sunday services in a variety of ways that aligns their gifts and talents with several serving opportunities. The best place to start is by filling out a Next Steps card online or located in the bulletin. This will help us help you take your next step and get you plugged in!
- Look for needs around you as you live your daily rhythm of life. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you needs, and follow through as He speaks to you. As you step out in faith and serve the people around you, tell others about your experiences. Small groups are the best place to do this because your testimony will encourage others to live and serve in the same way that Jesus did.
- vergenetwork.org: They have amazing ideas about simple ways to be missional. Click the “Missional” channel for access to those resources.
- Our Neighborhood, Our Mission
- The Blind Side (2009)
- “Hearts of Servants” by Shane and Shane
- “I Want to Be Used by You” by Deluge (Bethany Worship)
- “Do Something” by Matthew West