Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.—Colossians 3:23-24
It’s easy to get fixated on serving a man instead of serving God.
You see it all the time: People leave a church to follow a departing pastor or follow one to a new church. They quit a ministry when they don’t like the leader and throw all their energy behind one they do like.
Inspiring leaders inspire. Weak leaders weaken.
And in either case, it’s easy to lose sight of Whom we are serving.
I’ve served under ministry leaders who, at best, inspire me to want to beat my head against a wall until I knock a hole in the wall or make my head bleed. Conversely, I’ve served under ministry leaders whose love for Jesus and His people shines through—leaders who help you tap into the best you have to give and help you become the best you’re called to be. They breathe joy into service.
A new leader recently came onboard in an outside ministry of mine. She and I had some things in common, including our faith, so I was encouraged at the transition. But the resulting bureaucratic permutations left me missing the previous regime. I began to dread my service. And that caused me to question my motivations for serving.
Whether you’re serving under someone who motivates you or someone who deflates you, you need to ask yourself—and the Lord—a couple of questions:
- Am I called to use my gifts and talents in this way? (Or—insert honesty moment here—am I even gifted in that area?)
- Am I called to this particular ministry?
If the prayer-sought answer to both questions is no, do yourself and everyone around you a favor and bow out gracefully —now. Seek the Lord’s will regarding His calling on your life. And even if the prayer-sought answer is yes, you still may need an attitude reboot, because you may be focusing too much on personalities and not enough on the person of Jesus Christ.
You are not serving yourself. You are not primarily serving others. You are serving God.
We serve others through serving God, and sometimes we even benefit through our service, but neither of those outcomes should be key to our motivation to serve. Service can be hard and thankless and sometimes even lonely. It doesn’t always feel good to us, and it isn’t always appreciated by others. If you’re looking for a feel-good moment, go eat chocolate. (My recommendation: dark with sea salt caramel.)
If you’re truly called to a particular area of service at a particular time, serve fully and joyfully. Don’t preface your commitment with, “I’ve got to do this” (a grammatical monstrosity employed to make a point), but instead approach it with, “I get to do this.” Our “got-tos” become “get-tos” when we stop to consider we’re serving the God of the universe, who needs nothing and yet accepts the humble gifts we bring.
Man is worthy of our service as a creation made in the image of the Creator. But that image has been marred by sin. Only the Creator Himself is worthy of all we are and all we have. Let your service be unto Him.