One of the great pep-talks in scripture to encourage us to be actively serving in the kingdom is found in I Corinthians 15:58.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Go back and read the verse again. If you were to put it in your own words, how might you say it? “My dear Christian sisters, be firm and persistent not swayed or deterred, always excelling, like a beautiful flower going from bud to full bloom, as you go about building up the body, ministering to the needy, and saving lost souls. Be aware, at times it may cause pain or weariness, but your work in Christ is worth it! Keep going!”
It is vitally important to be involved with the work of our congregations. Often the question is not if to get involved, but how? It may seem to be an elementary topic, but this series of articles isn’t just for new Christians. Perhaps you are new to a congregation and you’re looking to get plugged in. Maybe you’re already actively serving but feel overwhelmed or burned out and need balance. Maybe you’re in a rut. You’ve been serving in the same capacity for a while and you’d like to do something different. Scripture is full of instruction and practical wisdom for serving in the kingdom. As we aim to improve our involvement in the work of the Lord, what characteristics should be seen in us?
I will look with Golden Rule eyes.
Sometimes I see someone else doing a good deed, and I think, “Wow! Why didn’t I think of that?” As I purpose to become more useful in the kingdom I need to make an effort to set aside my blinders: laziness, busyness, and self-centeredness. I truly want to be like that Good Samaritan who was able to see the needs of another and then act on them (Luke 10:27ff). I want to be the person who thinks of that good deed first! Not because it’s a competition, but because I’ve trained my eyes to see what is most needed and beneficial to others (Matt. 7:12, Phil. 2:4).
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I will have a heart prepared to sacrifice.
There’s no doubt about it. Working for the Lord takes time – the prioritization and the sacrifice of it. There are times when I need to check my heart to see who I’m truly serving based on where I’m spending my time (cf. Matt. 6:19-21). There may be other instances when I need to evaluate, with wisdom, all of the good works in which I’m involved. It may be time for me to give up my beloved role as VBS coordinator so that I can more fully serve in my visitation capacity. There is sacrifice in the doing, but there also needs to be sacrifice in the doing too much.
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I will have hands willing to get dirty.
I always smile to myself when I see an elder taking out the trash after a potluck meal. Of all of the people who could delegate such a chore, it’s a leader of the congregation. But, the willingness to humbly serve is exactly one of the characteristics that make a leader great. When I’m tempted to let someone else do a less than desirable job, I need to remember my Savior, who of all people, was willing to get His hands dirty in even the most menial of tasks (John 13:3ff).
I will have a head bowed in prayer.
Perhaps this characteristic needs the least explanation, but it often needs the most amount of work. I don’t always put my best effort into everything I put my hand to. I don’t always see (because I’m not always looking for) what needs to be done. I sometimes let myself or my nerves get in the way. At times, I just don’t want to do it. I will be more useful in my service when my head is continually bowed in prayer – prayers for forgiveness, courage, wisdom, and opportunity.
We learn throughout scripture that people and location put no restraint on God accomplishing His purpose. He can use us wherever we are and in spite of ourselves, but how much more when we are thoughtful, sacrificial, humble, and submissive servants.
Kathryn is married to Andy Baker who preaches for the Maud church of Christ in Maud, TX. She stays at home with their 3 children. In her spare time, she enjoys food (both cooking and eating!), gardening, and taking their Boston terrier for walks.