By Lauren Maggs. Catch part 2 next week
What discourages you most when it comes to your ministry or your service? Perhaps its feeling like your week was so busy and you just wanted one Sunday off? Perhaps it’s when those you are serving are disrespectful, unkind or selfish. Perhaps it’s when you feel like what you do isn’t even noticed or appreciated by the church.
Perhaps it’s feeling really dry spiritually. Perhaps you are feeling really far from God and your service feels insincere.
These are genuine discouragements and I’m sure there are many others. So, when these things, and others, strike, how will we keep inspired to serve? What will help us to keep on serving?
There are few things we want to remember. We first want to arm ourselves with truth before we feel discouraged so that when it happens, we know where to turn. It’s like taking vitamins before you get sick.
Things to remember:
Serving is an expression of our own relationship with God
Serving is always a response to what God has already done for us. We know that before we even loved him, God loved us and sent his Son to die for us.
It’s only because God has made us his own that we serve. We don’t serve to earn his favour by serving. We don’t serve in order to be a “good Christian”
Serving as a Christian is something totally different. Once God saves you, he changes you. By nature you are now more and more like him. You are a servant by nature and you express that by serving. Once he has made you his own, he makes you like him. And if Jesus is a servant, we are servants too.
We have been equipped to serve
We are told that the church has been given a variety of gifts amongst its people so that the church can be built up.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Eph 4:11 – 13
God didn’t just make us servants, he gave each of us specific gifts. Jesus himself gave you the gifts you use when you serve by teaching a Sunday school class or welcoming at the door.
He’s given each of us a specific way to serve to build up the church. It’s an expression of the fact that are part of the body of Christ.
Think of it like a sports team, you express that you are part of the team by using your strengths for the team, if you are the goal keeper, you stop the other team from scoring, if you are the striker, you run hard at the goal post and keep taking shots. By doing your part, you show you are part of the team.
You express that you are part of the body of Christ by using your gifts.
Do you see how using these gifts is an expression on the relationship you have God? You wouldn’t be serving, or have these specific gifts to serve with unless you had a relationship with God.
So when you feel discouraged, remember that your service is an expression of your relationship with your Father. It’s not about ticking a box or making God bless you or anything. He already has.
Serving is hard
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Serving is hard because we have an enemy. One who does not want us to teach others about Jesus. One who does not want us to demonstrate godliness and patience and love week after week.
Whenever you face something in your ministry that makes you want to stay away from church and not serve anymore – stop. Ask yourself who might be behind that.
God’s Word urges us to not be aware of the schemes of the devil. Discouragement is a scheme of the devil and it can come in many different forms: it might be the behaviour of the children in your Sunday school class, it might be unkindness from a church member or leader.
It’s important to remember that the devil is not the only thing we fight against.
We also fight away the world, a world that hates Jesus. A world full of people who will tell you at work on Monday that you wasted your time teaching teens the day before. A world where your friends will tell you that you are brainwashing your children because you keep teaching them about Jesus. A world that scorns the decisions you make with your money.
If those things were not enough, we are also fighting ourselves. We know that we have not yet been made perfect. We are waiting for that in Heaven. We still battle against our sinful nature – the nature we have been forgiven for. But that nature is not gone yet. This nature still lurking is the reason we respond to discouragement in a way we regret later. It’s the reason hard words spring so quickly to our lips when someone makes us angry. We look forward to being completely perfect with Jesus one day, but until then, we must remember that serving is hard because of the devil, the world and ourselves.
Remember who you are really serving
Your service is not just because of him, it’s for him. When serving gets tough, and you feel like those you are serving don’t appreciate it, you can rest in the fact that you are actually serving Jesus. Jesus teaches us this is parable, saying:
40 “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Which means, teaching a preschool Sunday school class is for Jesus. Pouring tea is for Jesus. Moving chairs is for Jesus. Leading a Bible study is for Jesus. When discouragement rears its head, and you feel disheartened by those who are serving, remember that whatever you do is actually for the Lord Jesus.
Hold these truths in your heart and meditate on them so that you can fight discouragement and keep on serving.
This is what you need to have in your mind to keep you inspired to serve.