What Serving Really Means


Merely providing napkins for the church picnic might be considered "serving" by definition, but its significance is questionable. Serving is about bringing benefit to someone else at your own cost.

We have a very skewed view of what serving means. Somehow we think that anything we do that’s hard for us, for God, is serving. That’s simply not true. Serving is not attending church. Serving is not going to Bible Study. Serving is not reading the Bible.  To be candid, those are all self-serving things. Should we do them? Yes, of course. Do they honor God? Yes, of course. Are they serving? No, absolutely not.

Serving is about bringing benefit to someone else at your own cost. Significant serving is bringing significant benefit to someone at your significant cost. Merely providing napkins for the church picnic may be serving by definition, but the significance is questionable. Sure, if no one brings the napkins we all have messy faces. But when that’s the sum total of your servanthood, I question your dedication to serving.  If it’s a tiny piece of it, then my hat’s off to you, because I need a napkin.

Serving makes sense of life. To live completely self-serving is not only pointless and lonely, but it’s entirely value-less. It defies your very reason for being.  Serving is what are equipped for, designed to do, created to be. We find fulfillment in being a part of something greater than us. We stop nit-picking ourselves when we have our eyes on others. When we cease to serve, we grow discontent rather rapidly.

What are you doing that matters for someone else? What are you expending for the sake of another?  I appreciate the value of ‘being’ with God, more than ‘doing’ for God, but at some point we need to examine what we are doing with our lives.  If your life hallmarked by bringing benefit to others and making their lives better because you are around?  Do you actively seek to lessen someone else’s load so that they might rest easier?

And how do you know if you are serving correctly for the right motives?  Usually you can tell by your reaction to the other person not acknowledging your effort. If you serve and get blown off for credit, you will quickly see your motives.  If you give and someone demands even more of you, your character will rise to the surface.  Being a people-please, my motives get mixed very quickly and I’m embarrassed many times at my frustration level of people’s reaction to my serving them.  We must get to the point that pleasing God and lessening people’s loads, regardless of reward, is enough.

I believe that there should be a significant portion of our lives given weekly to serving in a significant capacity. That can be inside the church, or outside the local church. That can be to strangers or to friends. That can be consistent or erratic, but we must make serving a part of our existence down here on earth continually. I believe that we should seek to serve as much as possible in the institutions that we draw from: local church, kids’ school, Bible studies we attend, etc.  If we are merely withdrawing and not replenishing, we may use up that natural resource and find those pools drained quickly. But, how do we serve in all places we attend? Perhaps we should strike a healthier balance in the places we attend, rather than running from water fountain to water fountain for a quick sip.

Jesus was a servant. He role-modeled servanthood and told us to follow His example. If we are to call ourselves Christians, we are defined by serving to some degree. What do we see in you?

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