4.06.2017

Learning to Lose Myself in Service to Others

As I've developed as a follower of Christ, there have been certain virtues that I resonate with. As I read about the value of kindness, empathy, mercy, and joy, I think to myself, oh yes, that's me, I see that fruit of the spirit in myself.
One that I've always struggled with is service.

I am definitely not a natural servant. If I'm honest, a part of me likes to be served and noticed for my work! Throughout my journey I've heard many brothers and sisters in Christ express that they feel closest to God when they are serving others. Thankless work like setting up chairs before church and shoveling snow allows them to feel God's presence and love. Tireless work which requires much sacrifice of one's own needs like working at a summer camp or cooking for a gigantic group of people brings these people the joy of the Lord.


 I have tried to serve in these ways. The more I think about it, I guess I am not a natural worker. Hard work, both in the physical sense and in the draining, exhausted sense, is not my jam. I'm much more inclined to the tasks that are relationship-driven and artistic, and I gravitated towards these types of service for my early life in Christ. I like cushy types of service like drinking tea and reading my bible, playing worship music, and connecting with others in conversation. However, as I dove into God's word, I continued to be mystified and feel a longing for this servanthood that I saw so many enjoy. Philippians says:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4)

I worked as a camp counselor one summer and saw this spirit come alive in many of my coworkers. But even though I made some great connections with campers, I continued to feel exhausted and worn out; I couldn't stop thinking about my own needs and desires. I wanted what I saw in my coworkers: to lose myself in service to others. I wanted to know the joy of being a servant.

I finally found that joy as a special education teacher. I came into the job under unique circumstances, and there is certainly a steep learning curve. I wasn't sure if it was for me, and then suddenly one day I realized that I didn't think about myself while I was at work. As I did everything I could to teach, help, and advocate for my students, I realized that I was too busy caring about my students to worry about my needs and desires. When I was at work, I had completely lost myself in serving them. When I went home, I continued to think about and pray for them. I finally understood the joy of being a servant, I now knew the life-giving service that I'd heard others express.

God has given us all different gifts, talents, and ways to serve. As you can see from my story, sometimes we struggle to find a heart for service. What is your natural inclination towards service? Have you found a way to lose yourself in serving God and others?

Friend, do not get discouraged as you seek knowledge of God's gifts and character through pursuing the virtues and actions he values. As we pursue following him and loving his people, he is pleased! He is continuously working in us and through us so that his love might be known.

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