How can we keep an attitude of joy while serving in the ministry? Let me suggest two simple words: “Think Souls.” The Bear Valley Bible Institute has a box of pins with these words written on them that they give away at Homecoming lectures. I keep mine right beside the bathroom sink-the first place I go in the morning-where I will be reminded of my goal every day! Our Lord kept His focus on the mission while He was on this earth, and note that some of His last words to His disciples were, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). His life was just not focused on Himself; it was clearly focused on doing the will of the Father and being the perfect example for us to follow. I think that one of the most beautiful pictures painted in the Scriptures is in John 13:4-15. Our Lord girds Himself with a towel and washes the feet of His disciples! Can you imagine what they thought about this after they had seen Him rise from the dead and later ascend into Heaven?! The Almighty Master got down on the ground and washed our dirty feet! And then to recall those words from verse 15 that He spoke to them, “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” We have not been put on this earth to serve “me, myself, and I,” but to serve “The Great I AM!”
Honestly, when I look at the times in my spiritual life when I am feeling the most “down,” it is usually because I have been thinking about myself too much. If I “get busy and get serving,” I forget all about my pity-party! Look around in your congregation and find someone who is struggling. We are human-we do from time to time. Let me encourage you to stop waiting for someone to come to you, go to them and brighten their day. I guarantee you will have a change of attitude. Remember Tabitha? Acts 9:36 tells us that, “this woman was abounding in good deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did.” It sounds like she sought out people to serve.
Another example is Phoebe. In Romans 16:1-2, we read that she is commended by Paul as being “a servant of the church and a helper of many.” Isn’t this what all of us would want to have said about us? Colossians 3:12 adds these encouraging words: “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” If we are seeking to add these qualities to our lives, there will be no room for pity-parties!
I love the example of the Shunammite woman, too. 2 Kings 4:8-11 tells her story of serving the prophet, Elisha and Gehazi, his servant. She was a prominent woman who invited them in and fed them. It seems that whenever they passed by, they would stop in there. Eventually, she and her husband even made a special room in which their guests could stay. What a wonderful example of serving! Now please don’t think that I expect you to build a room off your home just for guests, but remember that we are instructed to be “hospitable without complaint” (1 Peter 4:12). Some of the most joy that our family has experienced is in opening our home to those in need. Sometimes, it is until they find a place of their own, or maybe they need time to save up for a down payment. Whatever the reason-we try to make them feel like they are a part of our family. Let your brothers and sisters in Christ feel welcome in your home any time.
You may be thinking, “I don’t know the first thing about entertaining company” or “What do I serve, I can’t cook a thing!” Nobody said that you had to put on a show for guests, or prepare and serve a five course meal. Invite people over and get to know them. Why did they move to this area? Where are they from? How did they hear the Gospel? You don’t have to cook a meal either. A brownie mix is under three dollars. Bake some brownies and have some hot cocoa (a cold, Minnesota day favorite!). Sometimes people just need time to slow down and talk. No texting, no phones, simply face-to-face time with a friend. You will find joy in getting to know them, and be encouraged that they have spent time with you.
Because everyone is different, we need to realize that we will all serve in different ways, too. That is the beauty of the Body of Christ working together. We read this in Ephesians 4:11-12. Let each person find an area to serve, and jump right in there! Some women may serve as a Cradle Roll Teacher, but to others, this would be the longest hour of the week! Other women however, will be able to organize a congregational dinner for 200–no problem! The key is finding your talents in serving and practicing them. Notice I said, “practice”? The more we serve, the better we will get at it. Sure, we will have mishaps, but they make for funny stories later. (I once served rotten chicken to guests! I had a stuffy, allergy nose, so I didn’t smell it! Thankfully, no one ate it and got sick. My husband ran to KFC!)
3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the Truth.” If we want to be joyful in the ministry, we will “Think Souls” and use our talents to reach out to others and serve them. “Walking in the Truth” gives no hint of sitting back and watching! May the Lord bless you as you serve Him.
Robin Martin and her husband Randy are members at the South Twin Cities Church of Christ in Rosemount, MN, where Randy ministers as an elder. They just celebrated their 30 year wedding anniversary! They have seven children together, four of whom have married Christian spouses, giving them eight grandchildren! Robin enjoys running her in-home licensed daycare, teaching the baby and toddler classes for the church, leading ladies’ devotionals, and has had the privilege of speaking at Ladies Days in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa. She loves to sew, quilt, cook, host events, and spend time with her family and friends!