26. Are You Serving Yourself Or Others?

by Sep 18, 20232023

Recently, I volunteered at a Joni and Friends family retreat (click here for more information). At these retreats, families of children with a disability come to spend five days at a camp facility. Volunteers, assigned to individual children, provide respite care for extended periods of time each day. This allows parents to have dinner alone, take walks, nap or just rest. In addition, the retreats also provide needed marriage counseling and other worthwhile services. Many of the attending families don’t receive a “break” all year. The entire week is structured to benefit the families living under the significant pressure of caring for disabled loved ones.

At the end of this very amazing and busy week, I felt re-charged instead of drained. Needless to say, this was quite different from what I had expected. But as I thought about it, the words of Jesus found in Mark 10:45 (NIV) occurred to me as the likely reason. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”.

Our Self Focus Challenge

How often is the focus of our lives on how we can acquire or enjoy something? Even if it’s just a focus on getting “rest”, we tend to do so many things to benefit ourselves. Friends, doing things that are pleasurable is fine. It’s the imbalance I recognize in myself and in our culture that motivates me to write on this topic. I believe most of us are doing more than OK on the pleasure side. Can the same be said for the serving side?

The Call To Serve

Jesus modeled for us, as believers, how we are called to live. While we won’t do it as well as He did, that shouldn’t be an excuse for us to focus more on ourselves than on serving others. Self-satisfaction is not to be our aim. Rather, we have been created and made alive in Christ to fulfill the purposes of God. What an opportunity we have been given!  

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  This truth is incredibly inspiring to me, and I hope it is to you. The God of ALL, planned in advance, the good works we now have the privilege and responsibility to do.

And don’t you just love the practicality of Scripture? He not only made us alive in Christ, and planned how we are to serve Him, but Philippians 2:2-4 (NIV) then sounds a clear call for HOW we are to do this. Speaking of Jesus, it says, “Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one-mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” 

Finding Our Purpose in Serving

Going back to my volunteer experience, I returned home filled to overflowing by the privilege of serving. It renewed my desire to serve and reminded me of God’s call for each of us. Isn’t it so easy to spend more of our energy on enjoying ourselves rather than in service to others? But imagine the impact it would have on the world around us if we began to live differently! 

Friends, the world’s prescription for our lives is NOT God’s prescription. The advertisers say, “Get all you can!” Jesus says, “Give all you can!” I know to Whom I want to listen….how about you? 

We are created for a purpose! And that purpose is to serve God and others – and not only when we’re young! It’s our purpose and call for ALL the days of our lives. In God’s providence, many of us in the 4th quarter have the time and resources to engage in serving others as never before. Please don’t sell yourself short. You CAN still make a difference. Will you choose to exercise the courage and willingness to do so?