Serving is generally the action of helping or doing work for someone. It could be at a job or just doing a favor; a kindness; a good turn or giving a helping
Ever since I was a small child I have found pleasure in serving others, making them happy, helping them out. I wanted everyone to be happy. But I later found that, because of my own insecurities, what I really wanted was for everyone to like me; to be happy with me.
In the last several years I’ve become more and more aware of what motivates me to serve and I have to say it has in some ways been a pretty rude awakening.
The desire to serve has afforded me many blessings and opportunities in many places and ways, some by choice and some by chance. In some situations there were blessings reaped but some went on without any notice or recognition at all. And I would say to myself “It doesn’t matter.” but underneath I was hurt and I let it define me in both situation.
In part, I believe there is genuine concern for people, especially those who are what some call “down and outers” and probably because, at least in my observation at the time, that was my own social status most of my life. The other side of it isn’t quite as noble.
Recognizing several years ago that my service, though I did enjoy helping others, was born of a deeper desire to be liked, accepted by others, and to be significant in some way in this life . In other words, to feel better about myself and get recognition and confirmation from other people.
At times there would be brief feelings of superiority over those “down and outers” After all I was doing better now, more educated and yet willing to help them. Wasn’t that grand of me? When I received the kudos, ata girls and pats on the back for something I had done pride would sneak in. Oh, beware when pride comes in, it takes over and it is followed by a great fall!
However these feeling of superiority were short-lived Soon I would be beating my self up for feeling prideful and it would confirm, in my own mind, that I really wasn’t worthy of the love and acceptance I was looking for. I couldn’t win on the superiority or the humility stage.
In this bodies of flesh we are prone to serve not necessarily seeking but expecting something in return, maybe a gift, a favor in return or recognition. However the old saying,”you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” does not apply in serving others in Jesus name. It is often difficult to recognize what our motives are and even more so to address them. But as we ask God to search our hearts and show us any wrong motives He will. And He will also change move and work in our hearts so we recognize the right motives, the same motive Jesus had for serving us, LOVE!
We can write our own script and rehearse it for the applause of men, playing to the wrong audience for sure! Not realizing God has written the Script-ure for us to read that reveals our part in His plan and that part is for the audience of only one, God himself.
God will reveal to each of us that real significance doesn’t come through the accolades of people; how much we do; or how much we have or know. It comes through knowing Christ and who we are in Him. We are His children and therefore loved and significant in His eyes. Recognition isn’t gained through how much or how many are served. It doesn’t come from the approval of men and women. As His children, who have accepted Christ and His gift of salvation, we are free to serve out of the love He pours into us. That love is unlimited. We can love others without conditions and it doesn’t take anything away from who we are in Christ but instead enhances our lives and our love of others and Him.
As for me, I’m learning that I can and should use the gifts and abilities God has given me to serve others; to make people smile and to encourage and maybe even make life a little more bearable for them in some way. But I must follow God’s script, His part for me. With regular prayer and self-examination regarding the motives of my heart and remembering it isn’t about doing, it is more about my being. I will serve less out of compulsion, to meet my own need to be needed or guilt. And more to be who God made me to be. Then the motivation to serve will be out of God’s love for me and His command to love and serve one another.
God’s Word tells me and He shows me daily that I am significant to Him and loved by Him all at all times. He makes me aware that He is a good Father and leads me in what He would have me do to be His hands and feet in this world. I need only to let Him lead.
Like Paul says in the New Testament, I have not arrived but “I press on” to make sure that my purpose in serving is to show the love of Christ to others as He has shown love to me and with the expectation being that my life might be an example of God’s service, love and mercy and to direct others to Him, doing all things for the praise of His glory. (Philippians 3:12-14)
We don’t always get to choose where, how, or who we serve but we always have the choice of how we serve. Sometimes our service matters to many people, sometimes to only a few or may go unnoticed all together. Whether we serve those who appreciate or those who don’t; when it benefits us and when it doesn’t; when serving hinders us or even hurts us or if no one even notices. What matters is obedience in serving and the motivation of the heart that drives us.
I’m not saying it is wrong to receive blessings when we bless others for that is God’s blessing to us, but the key is that we are to bless them not expecting anything in return. Serving even when we know the other person can not give anything back. Our return on our investments will be paid out in huge dividends when Christ returns. And don’t you know we are blessed daily in the here and now whether we are able to serve or not. Our service is for our good, the good of others and for God’s glory.
Our motivation and our purpose in all things is to serve out of love, sincerely and “to the praise of God’s glory.” (Eph 1:13-14) then there will be joy in place of self centeredness in the service, whether serving at work, play, in relationships, in learning, in teaching; with friends and enemies and in times of blessing and trials. For men may look at the service and the benefits, but God is more concerned with our motivation, purpose and expectations. He looks at our heart attitude. (1 Samuel 16:7) NIV
What motivates you?
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV) (emphasis mine)
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)