To Serve or to be Seen

As a person who’s grown up in church, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing people serve in some capacity.  You volunteer for the nursery.  You donate time as an usher.  Maybe you’re part of the prayer team or the clean-up crew.  There are so many ways to give time in service to your local church and community.  The opportunities are endless.

There are many verses in the bible that speak to serving.

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.  As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the multifaceted grace of God.” –1 Peter 4:9-10

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters himself will be watered.” –Proverbs 19:17

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” –Ephesians 2:10

We are told to serve without complaint, to please God, and to bring Him glory.  My question to each of us serving is this:

Are we doing it to serve or to be seen?

Today’s society says ‘Look at me!  Look at what I’m doing to help!’ Everything that we see on social media screams out how good we are, how kind we are, how much help we gave when we service others.  But is that the kind of service God desires of us?

Please know that I’m not excluding myself from this question.  I find myself often having to stop and question my motives.  Am I doing this particular thing because God commands me to love, to help, and to assist, or am I doing it because it feels good to get the ‘attaboy and kudos for stepping up to the plate and serving someone or some way?

I also have to think about the way that I’m serving.  Am I skipping out on the potentially thankless job of janitorial work at the church or the tiring job of rocking a crying baby in the nursery, instead opting for the fun and noticed roles?  Am I choosing to snap an Instagram photo of me paying for a homeless man’s coffee instead of leaving an anonymous gift card for groceries for the family who’s mother just lost her job?

I’m not saying that those acts of service are not good.  Nor am I saying that they’re wrong.  What I’m asking us to examine is whether our motives are to really serve God or to be seen for our works.

I pray that my motives are never for the need to be seen.  God tells us in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

I pray that as we serve, dear friends, it’s to serve God and not ourselves. 

~Erin

No Service: A Distraction-Free Zone

Cell PhoneNo service or the spinning wheel of death usually causes a groan because I can’t access Google, Facebook or text messages. It often happens at the worst time, such as when I need directions in some remote area of Amish country.  Or worse, when I’m standing in a line…bored and needing some electronic entertainment. It’s annoying to not have service on my cell phone.

Except that there is one place where I don’t receive cell service that it isn’t annoying. It’s the one place I’m grateful I don’t get service.

At my church.

I don’t get one single bar.  A continuous spinning wheel of death.  Repeated “Not Delivered” messages.  Not a tiny, itty, bitty inch of service.

And I’m glad for it.  Why?  Because it’s a total and complete break from social media and obligations through my electronic lease.

It’s a relief to have that chain broken so that I can 100% focus on God and the people within the walls of the church. I literally have no excuse to not get involved, to not engage in conversation, to not fully worship and pray.  I have no buzz in my pocket tugging me away from being present in the moment.  No service means no distractions while I’m in the walls of the church.

Have you found yourself distracted while in your church?  It may be your phone, your child, your worries from work or even your spouse. Those distractions tear your attention away from God.

*Focus During Worship

Have you struggled with focusing on God while the worship music is happening? Are you self-conscious about singing in tune?  Perhaps you are wondering where the singer got her adorable dress? Fretting over clapping verses raising your hands in praise?

All of those are distractions from the true intent of focusing on God during worship time.

You can sing like an angel or roar like a lion, but not say one thing to God. You can be tone deaf or not care for a particular song, but speak to the Father fully from your heart.  I would encourage you to examine yourself and figure out if your words of worship are simply lip-service or if you are truly offering a song to the Lord.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” ~Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV)

*Focus During Prayer

During times of prayer, does your mind wander? Are you making a grocery list? Thinking about your child’s homework? Wishing you could pray more eloquently?

All of those are distractions from the true intent of focusing on God during prayer time.

You can get loud and pray boldly, but your prayer still won’t touch Heaven. You can stumble and use verbal pauses…..ummmmmm….., but speak directly to the Father’s heart.  Examine yourself and figure out if you are just tossing words around or are you offering a sweet sound of praise and request to the Lord.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” ~Psalm 18:14 (NIV)

*Focus During Service to Others

When you are serving others, are you considering other things you could be doing? Do you feel a sense of obligation rather than joy? Are you watching your watch, wishing the time away?

All of those are distractions from the true intent of focusing on God during times of serving others.

You can volunteer for dozens of organizations, but your service can be unpleasant to the Lord. You can serve one person in a seemingly mundane manner, but make the Father proud of you.  Examine yourself and figure out if you are serving others for yourself or are you offering the gift of your time as praise to the Lord.

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” ~Mark 9:35 (NIV)

These are just three examples of where we, as Christians, need to focus:                     During worship. During prayer. During service to others.

Through focusing on God, we need to mitigate distractions.

While my phone is an asset for staying connected in business and personal relationships, it can also become a distraction.   A distraction that has been eliminated based on the lack of a service area.

I am grateful for the elimination of that distraction.  It’s one step closer to staying focused on the Lord!

I pray that you have deliberately focused week that is free from the distractions of the season!

Merry Christmas!

~Emily