We tend to wear our busyness as a badge of honor.
Often, when I’m asked “How are you doing?” or “What have you been up to lately?” my default answer is, “Man, just busy.”
I’m the guy who read – and was dismantled by – Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy. (You can see a few key quotes here.) I’m the last one to advocate for being busy for busyness’ sake. Having said that, I really believe that God has given enough bandwidth to believers for each of us to serve one another.
To be clear: I’m not advocating for people who already have 15 ministry activities to take on a 16th. I’m not suggesting that people who are actively ministering in their community during the week should feel guilty because they don’t have an “inside the walls” ministry on the weekend.
No, I’m talking about the believer who isn’t currently, actively serving out of the overflow of their gifts and skill sets. Yes, they may be working 60 hours a week. Yep, they may have a job that keeps their weekend availability a bit unpredictable. But I believe that most Christians – with few exceptions – are wired to serve others, and for that reason, God dispenses grace for those believers to do what he’s wired them to do. Here’s why:
- Serving others is a constant reminder that “it’s not about me.” Don’t misunderstand: I believe you can get great personal joy from serving in the nursery or parking cars on a cold winter’s day. But when you do those things, it’s a heart check that the universe doesn’t revolve around you. When you serve, you give up something you love (your comfort and convenience) for something you’ve learned to love even more (the joy of selfless giving in the love of Jesus).
- You serve not because the church needs you to, but because you need to. Pastors are pretty infamous for pleading according to need: “If you don’t sign up to serve in the nursery, we’ll have to toss babies out on the sidewalk.” But that’s just what they teach you in Announcements 101 in seminary. (In reality, very few babies are placed on the sidewalk.) When you serve according to need, you’ll quickly find yourself on a slippery slope of never-ending need. The church was probably okay before you came along, and they’ll likely survive if you never get off your padded pew. No, serve because it’s the way you’ve been wired and it’s a part of your own spiritual growth.
- Serving according to your passion can supply energy, rather than drain it. We’ve all served in areas where we weren’t qualified or did it because someone begged us to. And we know how that goes – after a few hours or few weeks or few months we’re ready to chew off our arms to get out of there. But when we serve in a place that matches our passion, gifts, and skill sets, church leadership will have a hard time keeping us from serving.
- Serving perpetuates a very important weekend cycle. When you first show up at a church, you naturally arrive as a consumer. And after a time of getting assimilated to life within the church, you should grow from a consuming taker to a commissioned giver. But here’s the catch: you’re serving those who are arriving in your wake. You are remembering the grace others gave you, and you’re now doling it out to others. And your example can serve to raise up those consumers to one day serve as well.
Are you serving? Is there a place where you’ve determined your gifts and you’re pouring them out to others? Are you following the biblical mandate to serve one another and outdo one another in showing honor? If not, now is the perfect time to get started.
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