Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Serving or Servant

"No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everday life, so that he many please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4

This Sunday will find me on the floor surrounded by precious little three year olds. It was just over a year ago now that my Pastor happened to mention a necessity for more workers in the area of Children's Ministries. I attend a fairly large, active, growing church and with the increase in attendance brings the need for a greater number of teachers in all our programs.

As my husband and I drove home from church that morning, I must confess to complaining in the car. I was annoyed that in a church our size we didn't have a superfluity of workers. Our demand does not exceed our supply - at least not in numbers, but maybe in willingness. I was discouraged, as once again the saying appeared to be true - 10% of the people were doing 90% of the work. After grumbling for a few moments, I decided I should keep my mouth shut. After all, I wasn't teaching in Children's Ministries!

As that Sunday afternoon wore on, I felt the Lord calling me to be open to the idea of being an answer to this need. At first I argued that although I wasn't serving in this area, I was involved in Women's Ministry and leading Bible Study. The Lord just didn't seem to accept that excuse, and by the time I was heading to bed that evening, I felt strongly convicted that I needed to respond.

To confirm God's prompting, my devotional the following morning was entitled, "We Serve God by Serving Others". All day Monday it was my intention to contact our Children's Ministry Pastor, but busyness and the tyranny of the urgent crowded out my obedience. As the day was ending I thought I had better make a list of where and when I would be available to serve. You see, my husband and I attend the early service together, so I wanted to help during the 11:00am hour. I'm not really a 'baby' person, so I definitely didn't want to work in the nursery - my diaper days were over! We have a trailer at Muskoka Bible Conference Center, so I didn't want to have to give up my summer weekends. My list continued to get longer and longer. I had quite a few stipulations. As I crawled into bed, I tucked my 'wish list' (maybe more my 'list of demands') in my Bible, promising the Lord I would send an e-mail first thing in the morning.

Bright and early Tuesday morning I reached for my laptop. True to my word, I was going to send that message and oh, how pleased everyone would be with my willingness. I was responding to God's call. As I pulled out the list I had written hours earlier, I opened my e-mail to send my message and an on-line devotional had arrived. I clicked into it. God's timing was unbelievable. The key verse might as well have been in LARGE BOLD letters. This is what I read, "No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everday life, so that he many please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4

The devotional went on to say that real servants make themselves available and don't limit their availability. The author wrote, "If you only serve when it's convenient for you, you're not a real servant. Are you available to God anytime? As a servant you don't get to pick and choose when or where you will serve. Being a servant means giving up the right to control your schedule and allowing God to interrupt it whenever He needs to."

With tears streaming down my face I looked at my list of demands still held in my hand. Oh Father, how could I? I am so ashamed for my lack of surrender. Wasn't it just days ago I wrote, "You are my Passion", and I told You it was my desire to say, "To the ends of the earth I will follow, there is NOTHING that I wouldn't do"? Already self had taken the throne once again.

With complete humility and abandonment I did write that e-mail. Not the one I had originally planned. I shared that if they could use me, I would be available whenever and wherever.

There is a vast difference between serving and being a servant. One is self-motivated, the other is in response to the love for the One you are serving. One is a duty, the other a delight. One feels more like an obligation, while the other springs from a heart of obedience. One is a responsibility, the other refreshes. While serving, quite often we're looking for something to gain, while being a servant is all about giving.

Is God calling you to some area of ministry? It doesn't have to be in the church. Whatever and whenever God summons you, can you willingly follow? God isn't looking for you to be doing more, but joyfully being used in the plans and purposes He designed for you before you were born. Have you given God a conditional offer, or are you allowing Him to cultivate in you a true servants heart?

The week after volunteering, God had me teaching a room full of precious little 3 year olds...at 11am...on a rotation basis of once every five weeks. Do you see how He perfectly looked after all of my desires as well? He's not out to make life miserable for us by placing us in areas that don't coincide with the gifts and personality He has given us. He knows us better than we know ourselves and as He calls us to be His servants and follow His example in sweet surrender, He is maturing us and changing our character into His likeness. Oh if I would only trust Him more.



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4 comments:

Jill Herald said...

Good Morning Joy! I have so frequently travelled the path you just so perfectly wrote about. It is refreshing to know I am not alone when I decide to "help" God not truly submit and join Him where He desires me to be, especially after just previously being in a place of complete surrender to wherever He wants to lead me. We humans are a difficult lot at times. It's just so nice to find that I don't travel alone. Thank you for being so transparent today. Jill

~Grace and Peace said...

Joy,
Just like God used a devotion to speak to you, He's using yours to speak to me.


"There is a vast difference between serving and being a servant. One is self-motivated, the other is in response to the love for the One you are serving. One is a duty, the other a delight. One feels more like an obligation, while the other springs from a heart of obedience. One is a responsibility, the other refreshes."

Up until a few minutes ago, I have always thought I was being a servant - and quite pleased with myself. I guess all this time I have just been serving out of duty, obligation and responsibility. And this is to my family!

Thank you for opening my eyes. I need to be right with the Lord in this area of my life. (((HUGS)))

Longing to be his servant,
~T

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I want to be in your SS class; maybe we could co-teach it! Wouldn't that be a hoot? I remember your struggle with this one, and now, on the back side of nearly a year, I imagine you can trace the absolute worth in it all; if you can't, then those kids certainly can.

Kingdom seed, friend. Thank you for always being so faithful to sow it.

Like here... at this blog, day after day; struggle after struggle; tear after tear, until it's done.

It's almost done, and even there, it all begins again.

You're my hero. Love you. Be looking for something in the mail next week or the next, depending on the swift flight of the post office to northern countries above me.

peace~elaine

Amy@LivinginHarmony said...

Thank you for raising such deep question in my heart. Have I been a servant or have I just been serving ? I will be praying and pondering on this over the next few days.