A joy that can be often overlooked is the joy of serving within a local congregation. Many church ministries rely on volunteers to help support, assist, and run various aspects of the life of the church, from children's ministry, to greeters, to ESL and mercy ministries. For a ministry to function, individuals are needed to make it happen.
Often times in churches there is this tension that arises. People within a congregation would like a certain ministry (children's or youth for example), but people do not step forward and expect the ministry to function by the sheer will of staff. Or what is most common and understandable; some faithful volunteers week in and week out support the ministry but when life circumstances change they need to step back to rightfully care for their families. This in turn can leave a void needed to be filled.
If you are in a church, I am willing to bet that there is some need for volunteers. If you have not gotten plugged into serving within your church, let me encourage you to seek after the joy of serving.
The Joy of Serving Your Brothers and Sisters
The saying goes that church is not to be a "spectator sport" whereby we come, watch, grab our fill, and leave. We are called to come and be a part of the life of the church, not watching from the sidelines, but getting involved. This is especially true when we become members of a local congregation; we commit to serve one another as we serve our God. This is not done out of a mere sense of obligation, but from a love that seeks to build up others.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ... (Eph 4:11-12)
God has given gifts and talents to individuals and are called to serve the local body of believers. Whether your gift is teaching, preaching, hospitality, administration, creativity, musical, God has uniquely made us to serve our brothers and sisters. There is joy when we are able to utilize the gifts that God has given us.
The Joy of Serving Your Neighbor
Serving not only edifies our brothers and sisters, but it witnesses to those who do not know Christ. Serving is essentially loving our neighbor. It is putting others first and seeking their good over our own. It is a tangible display of God's love for them. Christ saw serving through love as an indicator of one's discipleship,
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
When we serve, we are witnessing to the goodness of Christ. We are sharing his love with others. We are giving a visible, real, and tangible display of God's love. As the saying goes, "preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." There is joy when we are able to utilize the gifts that God has given us to witness and share his love with those who may not know him.
The Joy of Serving Your God
Ultimately, we serve not for our own glory, but to honor our Lord.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)
We honor God by both being stewards with his gifts and glorifying him in all that we do. As stewards, we honor God by utilizing the gifts he has given us. The parable of the talents in Luke 19:11-28 comes to mind. God has uniquely created us with gifts to be shared, not withheld. Through the gifts that God has given we glorify and honor him. Serving is not about ourselves, though there is joy for us as we serve, it is not about others, though there is joy for them as we serve, it is about honoring God and glorifying him.
If you are not yet plugged in, let this be a gentle nudge to consider the gifts God has given and where best they can be utilized.