Saturday, October 18, 2008

Serving or Servant

A few weeks ago now 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 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 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.


Melinda said...

This was excellent!

I'm wondering what God's trying to tell me, as I just read this post over at Sassy Granny:

Blessings to you (and all those 3 year olds!)

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Great writing my friend! Great obedience. I love the fact that you respond to the promptings of your heart in such full measure. So few of us do.

I'm so proud of you.


Cheri Bunch said...

You are so precious! Thank you for sharing this, Joy!
He Speaks! How wonderfully He Speaks!
Love you,

Catherine said...

I think most of us can relate to putting our desires infront of our willingness to help and asking God to fit something into our plans. Thank you for the great reminder that we need to be open to what God wants, without listing all our desires to Him.

those little ones will be blessed to have you as their teacher!

Amy L Brooke said...

Great thoughts. I've been trying to figure out how I fit into the ministry at my church. Not easy. Hope you are doing well.

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

Wonderful post Joy! And you truly are an amazing servant of the Lord....both in your church and in your blogging community! Thanks for serving us!

God bless you!


Sita said...

Congrats, Joy! I just saw that you were one of the winners for Lysa's radio show. How affirming is that!
And this is just the beginning for you...

heartreflections said...

Spoken from a heart of obedience and humility. Thank you Joy.

Pamela (MrsJoeB) said...

What a great post. You areright, only 10% tend to do the work-even in smaller churches such as the one I serve in. Too many people are Sunday morning Christains but as frustrating as it may be, that isn't the message here is it? The message is being willing to serve and doing so with the right mind-so we press on!

In His Graces~Pamela

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

What a precious post!

We too go to a large church and this is a probelm at ours too. But if everyone took this stance on things in the church, we wouldn't have these types of problems! It's starts with us!! Great post girl! =)

Julie Gillies said...

Hi Joy,

Praise God that you heard Him, stepped out, and it's ONLY every 5 weeks! LOL

You asked if God is calling me to step out - in fact, I recently felt like I should try writing in the secular market. GASP! I've always felt called to minister to the Body of Christ, yet something began stirring in me a few months ago.

Then last month I responded to an ad for writers for a national magazine. When I discovered the type of magazine, I was initially repulsed. Surely God wouldn't want me to write for a magazine I'd never dream of reading...right?

But the Lord began to show me that this was an opportunity for His truth to be placed into a very dark place.

And guess what? I went for it. I submitted an article on the subject of forgiveness, complete with a scripture, then committed it into God's hands.

Yesterday I received word that the magazine accepted the article. I believe that the Lord will use it to touch people who might never pick up a Bible.

We just never know WHERE God might use us!

Please forgive me for leaving the longest comment EVER!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Joy - I am coming over from Lysa's post on our was so special.

Flamingo Mama said...

wow. this was a wonderful post. to be honest, i know where God has called me to ministry and i find myself wanting to sign up everywhere else, but there...motherhood. I love being a mom, but goodness, the full surrender you talk about is a daily battle.

i too go to a large church and never "get" why we need help so badly...our supply outweighs the demand.

i've encouraged other children's ministry workers in that they really are worship leaders. they lead the moms and dads into worship by allowing them to be in the presence of God without halfpint at their feet.

so as a mother of one of those 3 year olds...thank you!g

JottinMama said...

Hi there:) I just had to let you know that your comment on my blog about "mustard seed" faith came at just the right time! Today, as I was shopping at a Christian bookstore, I saw a cross necklace with a tiny mustard seed inside of it! I totally loved it! My mom was with me and she decided to give it to me as a gift! Oh, the joy! I am wearing it right now :)

Thanks for reminding me that all it takes is faith the size of a mustard seed.

Be blessed :)

Joy in the Burbs... said...

It sad to see the Children's Minister practically begging for help in our church too. We go to a huge church. This is a great post. I'm sure every Children's minister would love a copy.
I'm glad you shared this devotional on a real servant. I also signed up to help in our children's ministry every other week, I do enjoy the energy and music and seeing them learn more about the Bible. It really is a blessing.

Paula (SweetPea) said...

I love this:
"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."

I've struggled with needed to serve just so I'd be giving of myself. I've not volunteered myself for that exact reason. I don't want to just be a warm body. But I must remember what you've said here is so true. He's doing to work it out to compliment our gifts and personality all while also giving us our desires and fulfilling our person not Mary's or Sally's.
Thanks, Joy.
Sweet Blessings,

Tracy said...

Thank you for sharing how God worked in your heart to bring about your obedient surrender. Your honesty humbles me. We too go to a large church with the same scenario. It's often a temptation to hesitate when there is a need, so that others will finally step up, but that's not what God asks. As scripture states and as your experience confirms: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."


Yolanda said...

Thank you Lord. You simply are the best.


Cindy said...

"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."

This is a paragraph that I could continue to learn from for the rest of my life!!!

Lelia Chealey said...

Loved this Joy!! I can be so selfish at times...many times I'm afraid to admit.

Always love visiting here.
love you sister,

Carolee said...

Awesome post...hhhh...last year when school started I was lost in a quicksand of pity and wishful thinking, then God started doing things through reading His word and prompting of the Holy Spirit. This year has been incrediable, I found out I could do His work each day with the little ones I come in contact with, even without saying His name! Enjoy all the hugs! I got rushed last night at a high school vollyball game by two little girls I see daily...each one I get reminds me of HIS love!

Kelley said...

I love this post! What an awesome reminder of how to be a servant of the Lord! Good for you to hear His voice and respond I pray you are blessed through it!

Enjoy your weekend, I hope it isn't too cold up there in Canada!!


Leah said...

I think finding childcare workers is a universal problem. We have a huge problem at our church. You would think with 700+ regular attenders at worship service that it wouldn't be a problem, but it is!! I, too, do my part and volunteer.


Bonita said...

What a humbling post and what a testimony. It leaves me with some thinking and praying to do.