“The opportunities to be involved and an active part of your church family are endless! There’s something here for everyone.”
That was great. It really was.
Except, there I was, born and raised in a small everybody-pitch-in-to-get-it-done church of about 75 people, feeling my heart rate slowly rising as the pastor listed off the seemingly infinite list of service opportunities within this church of over 2,000. I became overwhelmed along the way with the nagging thought, “How do I pick where to serve? Can’t I just do it all?”
We all have unrealistic hopes like that, don’t we? Those moments of intense, my-faith’s-on-fire, passion where we want to serve our Lord BIG.
Or, sometimes, those moments are painfully apprehensive. How can I possibly be a Sunday morning greeter, new-mom food deliverer, Vacation Bible School teacher, carpet vacuuming cleaner, and flower watering gardener without only doing a halfway decent job or burning out?
Yes, pastor was right - the opportunities to serve our Lord are limitless. But, how do we pick the opportunities within our own limits?
This led me to ponder how to avoid overcommitting and underperforming when serving my Savior. I came up with a total of five questions, which I think will help both you and me as we deliberate how to best use our talents. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Is it manageable?
Oh boy, do I stink at answering this question honestly. However, it’s important that we do. While God has gifted us with many talents to serve Him, He has also gifted us with time, and, frankly, we can be tight on it. We need to take a moment when an opportunity arises to really ask ourselves if we have enough time to be involved, and not only to be involved, but to be committed and to do it well.
God didn’t design us to work nonstop. When life gets busy, it’s okay to acknowledge that we need moments of leisure and rest. Despite what Instagram may show you, we can’t do it all. And, I promise you, that is okay.
2. Does it make use of my talents effectively?
Here’s a quick refresher on the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus tells a story of a master’s three servants who were entrusted with different amounts of gold (a type of currency called talents). Two of the servants put their money to use and doubled their gold while their master was away. However, the third servant was scared to disappoint his master, so he buried the talents in the ground, earning his master nothing.
Which servants pleased the master? The ones who used what they had to make more, of course! Similarly, and ironically given the name of the currency in this story, we can use our talents to please God or we can discount our gifts and abilities as worthless.
This parable doesn’t simply teach us to use our talents; we can grow and strengthen them, as well, just as the first two servants did. Part of being human means that we are privileged to constantly learn, grow, and improve. So, if you’ve always been interested in helping with a summer sports camp but have never picked up a bat or kicked a soccer ball, maybe start as an assistant or provide snacks. In time, your skills and knowledge will grow, making you better prepared to serve in other ways.
3. Is it something I am passionate about?
This plays a bit into my last point. If you don't yet have the skills or knowledge to help with a task, that doesn’t mean you aren’t interested in it and capable of learning how to do it. Passion produces productivity. It’s as simple as that. If the idea of being involved with an activity gives you butterflies of joy in your gut, go for it!
Disclaimer, there’s a flip side - sometimes the things we are crazy passionate about can become work. Let’s not fall into the trap of wanting to quit when things get hard or when we lose our motivation. Just because our desire dwindles doesn’t mean it won’t be reignited. Emotions, like motivation, can be fickle.
Case in point, I love writing. It’s one of the easiest ways to declutter my brain and clarify my perspective. Plus, through this site of Christian women, I’m able to share my faith in my own words and prayerfully help others as they walk with Christ. Like, come on, that’s so cool! But, Amanda and Becky can serve as my witnesses, I ask for an extension on my deadlines pretty much every single time I have a post due. Passion does not equal no work. However, just like Marie Kondo taught us through her cleaning mantra, it’s good to stick with the things that “spark joy.” There will always be work when we serve, but the bits of work are ultimately a joy when we are passionate about the big picture before us.
4. Does it benefit God’s kingdom?
This one’s hard, because God’s kingdom thrives in so many ways. My small church roots make me think about this a lot, simply because my home congregation has tried numerous acts of service... and ditched many of them when they’ve failed. We have to consider what is going to truly advance the Gospel message as we work. We want our efforts to be effective in creating fellowship while uplifting Biblical truths. Let me illustrate this.
Growing up, my home congregation always had Christmas for Kids about two weeks before Christmas. Children ages five to twelve would come to church on a Saturday to hear about Jesus’ birth, put together a Christmas craft, sing carols, and decorate cookies to take home. As a kid, it was awesome! Sadly, as years went by, less and less children attended. Eventually, no children from the local neighborhood came. We were left with a handful of already churched kids approaching the age where they no longer appreciated such activities. The Biblical truths were there, but our fellowship and outreach were practically nonexistent. So, we cancelled Christmas for Kids and switched our focus to better benefit our community and congregation.
God gave us brains and logic for a reason. There are many factors to consider as we choose acts of service - community, culture, practicality, affordability, etc. Of the utmost importance, “Does this serve God and his people?”. If you can answer that with a clear-conscience, “Yes!”, dive in. However, God’s always the one in control. Even the best laid plans and well-thought-out approaches may fail. Look for the doors He opens. He’ll lead, so pay attention to where He is guiding you.
5. How am I already serving?
Here’s the truth at the end of it all: living for Christ means that we serve Him in all that we do. When I scanned and bagged groceries at work, I glorified Him. When you packed your daughter’s lunch, you praised Him. When your husband mowed the lawn, he acted as a steward of God’s creation. When we invite our friends to service, we acknowledge our Savior and share His grace.
Yes, the opportunities to serve are endless. Don’t discount your daily acts of service as meaningless. They exalt Him, too.
I pray this list of questions helps you if you also struggle with choosing in which ways to serve our Father. Maybe you have your own questions you already ask yourself when approached with deciding how to serve, in which case, I’d love to hear them to add to my own.
It’s a big blessing to have limitless options to serve, honor, and proclaim a limitless God.
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” 1 Corinthians 12:5-6
How will you serve today?