Serving helps others.
Serving is primarily about relationship. If we do not care about other people we will not be motivated to serve. Underlying all serving is the desire to bless someone – either directly by a selfless act, or indirectly by serving a situation from which they will benefit.
Serving accomplishes tasks.
Serving is not, of course, in a vacuum; it must have tangible expression. So Jesus served us by emptying himself and becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross. Why? To serve us and open up the way back to God the Father, something we could not do in our own strength.
Joseph served faithfully by caring for Potiphar’s household affairs and then, in prison, for his fellow prisoners. Ultimately he was promoted to serve his people by organising food to alleviate the effects of famine. In all these cases, serving faithfully in the ‘task’ led to blessing for others.
Let’s bring serving up to date. How can we serve people in our churches on a regular basis? The opportunities are almost limitless, so I will cite just three.
First, the spiritual gift of hospitality is an excellent place to start when seeking to build a Stewarding team to welcome people by a warm greeting and showing them to their seats. The purpose is to help people feel secure and accepted, particularly visitors. Coming into a church meeting can be a very strange experience. Consider it for a moment. Where else would you stand with friends and sing with your eyes closed, then listen to someone taking a few sentences from a big book, and explain what those few words mean and how they can be applied to your life?! It can be scary for someone not familiar with ‘church’. So the role of a steward is to make people feel comfortable and at home, maybe by introducing them to someone who will explain what is happening.
Second, on an intensely practical note, there are many opportunities to serve in Preparing for a Meeting. The purpose here is to anticipate what will be happening and create an atmosphere which will help people focus on God.
Third (and enjoyably!), what about Catering? Eating together provides an excellent vehicle for people to meet and relate to one another. So what greater privilege than to prepare food that will be a blessing within and provide blessing without! This is particularly valuable when young people or overseas visitors are involved. Somehow the young and other cultures respond well to the chance to eat together.
Are there rewards for serving?
Serving is fulfilling. We have already looked at Gen 39:5 and seen that serving produces blessing. However, that is not necessarily for the one doing the serving. Here it is Potiphar’s household that is blessed.
If we serve in order to get tangible reward we may well be disappointed. We don’t serve for recognition (though some gratitude helps!) but for satisfying Jesus. The world demands pay – believers store up treasures in heaven. Nevertheless, when teaching through the parable of the talents in Matt 25 Jesus uses the master in the story to commend the faithful slave: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant …. Enter into the joy of your master’ (Matt 25: 21,23).
God has called us to be a part of his church in order to be effective in defeating the enemy, like conscripts in an army. It is a huge privilege to be called to such a lifelong task! Let us be faithful in walking as obedient servants in his purposes and knowing the joy of being called his friends, as a result (Jn 15:14). That should be reward enough. Anything else is a bonus!