Embracing Spiritual Disciplines: Service

I have been trying to write this post for about four days now. Interruptions have become the norm. Each of my children has needed me for something different at separate times. I’ve had to drop everything and pick someone up, make a meal, show them how to do something, and help them study for finals. I caught myself getting frustrated at these interruptions because I was writing on an important topic. The topic? Service! The irony was not completely lost on me.

Maybe you’ve been there too. The tedium of the tasks of daily living can seem unimportant. Certainly, they seem inferior to the bigger tasks in our lives, especially tasks we are doing for the Lord. This quote from Bonhoffer’s Life Together stopped me in my tracks:

One who worries about the loss of time that such petty, outward acts of helpfulness entail is usually taking the importance of his own career too solemnly.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Ahem. Perhaps my reluctance to serve others is really spotlighting how I actually think too highly of myself. Service is a spiritual discipline I need to spend some time contemplating!

What is service as a spiritual discipline? It is a growing desire to serve God by meeting the needs of those around us. Our humility will increase, our pride will decrease, and service will become a mindset we adopt.

Some of our service will be within our gifting. Teachers should be serving by teaching. Encouragers should be serving by encouraging. But many small tasks will present themselves that might seem beneath us. Should the pastor of the church pick up the piece of garbage he sees it the parking lot? Should the talented singer make a meal for a family in crisis? Should the elder rake leaves at the home of an elderly widow? YES!

The hard and sometimes painful flip side to service is allowing others to serve you. That bruised ego is so painful. In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says,

Those who, out of pride, refuse to be served are failing to submit to the divinely appointed leadership in the kingdom of God.
— Richard Foster

You will not need to look very far to find places to serve. Look right where God has put you. The tasks he has for you will be different than the tasks he has for others. Watch for opportunities around you and be listening to the Holy Spirit.

Our service should be done with intentionality and discipline. We should not be concerned with the reaction of others or acknowledgment in any way. The more secret our service, the better. When we aren’t worrying about the results, we won’t become frustrated with the reaction of others. The results are God’s domain, not ours.

Imagine if everyone in your family, circle of friends and church was intentional and disciplined about serving one another and those in their community. What a world that would be!

What service opportunities have you encountered this week?

For more in this series. check out:

Embracing Spiritual Disciplines: Confession

Embracing Spiritual Disciplines: Bible Study

Embracing Spiritual Disciplines: Prayer