It was an early Sunday morning and I was preparing to get my kids ready for worship. I opened my dresser drawer and pulled out my blue volunteer shirt. I was serving in our children's ministry for the morning.
I serve in various areas of the church, and I take advantage of the childcare for my two small kids, so I feel the need to serve other parents as well by volunteering to teach their kiddos every once in a while.
I am going to be very honest here: I'm not a fan of serving in the children's ministry. I dislike that I miss the service. I leave worn out and with a renewed thankfulness I didn't choose to go into education like I had planned! God bless the women and men who teach our little ones every day!
I tell this story to share with you a real life example of when service in the church isn't glamorous or fun. Should I quit serving in the children's ministry because I don't like it very much? No. Should I continue to serve with a begrudging attitude? Absolutely not. God has had some work to do in this heart.
You see, I am part of a church congregation who needs people to step up and do things that don't always feel awesome. That's how we function. Sometimes we will serve in capacities that we love and in doing so it requires little emotional sacrifice. Other times we are asked to serve in ways that require more of us. Yet even when it’s hard and tiring and not the thing you love, we can allow God to use it to transform our hearts and make us more like Him in the process.
It's Not About Me
Ultimately, serving my local church can't be all about me. We tend to think about what would suit us best or what would fulfill us the most. While these questions can be helpful, our service isn't to make me comfortable and happy. The local church exists as God's "plan A" to reach the world with the gospel. We are there to learn, to worship, to grow in community, and to be equipped for mission. When we serve in a capacity that we don't love, it is used by the Lord to further His kingdom. If you're the children's teacher, if you empty trash cans, if you run the sound, if you serve and no one ever sees - it matters. The more I learn about the structure of the local church, the more I see the beautiful picture that God creates with different people and different gifts. My attitude changed when I realized that service cannot be about me and what I want. It can’t be inward focused, it has to be outward focused. I’ve learned that in this place of tension or friction, God works in us.
We must change our perspective when we look at our church body. We must see it as a sacrificial offering to build the church and reach the lost. I had to ask myself, "How can I use this time to invest in eternity?" Instead of dragging my feet in my blue volunteer shirt, I can ask, "Am I using this as an opportunity to worship through sacrifice?" Serving in our children's ministry has given me the opportunity to meet families who were attending for the first time. God has revealed tender moments to share His love and truth with the kids and families that attend. It has softened my heart and is a source of sanctification. The Lord has used it for my good, even in my frustration. If I stayed where I was most comfortable, I’m afraid these refining moments would have been lost.
No matter where you serve within in your church, it will require sacrifice. Some ways more than others. If you are in a role at the moment that you dislike, don't throw in the towel. Give it more of yourself. Serve well. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Know that God is refining you and preparing you and wants to use you.
If you are reluctant to volunteer because you are hesitant to do something you dislike or you just don't care for sacrifice - I urge you - volunteer anyway. Let God use you, soften you, and sanctify you.
If the God of the universe can send His son - fully God and fully man - to die on behalf of my sins, if he can trade His perfect purity to bear the weight of my shame, I can put on my blue shirt. I can walk with joy. I can serve well. I can show up on time and serve with gladness. Even when I don't feel like it. Even when I'm tired and worn out and would rather be somewhere else. And I can do so with the knowledge that it's for my good and His glory.