I bring that up because last Sunday night, this thought surfaced in our group. (And because we don’t claim to be telepathic, I’ll tell you that I should have said “question” rather than “thought” in that last sentence. Jodie Foster’s character in Escape to Witch Mountain, anyone?)
Here it is: how can we tell when our motives to serve are pure? You know what I mean: even servants in the church struggle with serving out of selfish motivation. We want to be seen. We want to be recognized. We want the accolades of a tin-foil LifeWay 50 Year Volunteer Lapel Pin. (No, they don’t make one…yet. They’re waiting on the matching Henry Blackaby Bible study.)
Because our hearts are at the core deceptive, it’s even hard for us to tell what our own motivation might be. But I think I have a clue:
What level of discomfort have you reached?
You see, when I’m serving at my own comfort level, the chances are good that somewhere in there is a root of selfishness. But when I’m really uncomfortable – my palms are sweaty, my throat goes dry, my heart starts beating fast, one of two things may be true:
- My wife just walked into the room (insert “Awwwwww…” here), or
- God might be stretching my capacity to serve.
Here’s what I’ve learned about my deceptive heart: I’m pretty comfortable as long as I’m living within the bounds of my own selfishness. But when I feel unsure about something, when I’m not sure of the natural next step, when I experience frustration in the midst of the process, then nine times out of ten I can guarantee that’s God enlarging my capacity to love Him and the people He puts in my path.
A few examples:
- I’m okay with serving the homeless in a soup kitchen, but I’m really uncomfortable about inviting a homeless person for Christmas lunch (that country ham is mine).
- It’s no problem to have a surface conversation with a friend about their marriage problems, but it cracks my schedule when I have to roll up my pants legs and walk through the mess with him.
- I love having initial conversations with people about their spiritual growth, but quickly get frustrated if they’re not moving as fast as I think they should.
What do you think? Is this true in your life? I’m tossing this idea around and seeing if there’s more to it than I might initially think, because after all, I’m still working out of a pretty deceptive heart.
What does your discomfort say about your spiritual growth?