2000-05-05 - Servanthood, not Drudgery
Originally Published 1998-07-10
If you have never felt burned out in service, never wondered if what you are doing makes a difference, never felt resentful of the time you spend serving, have never known what began as service to become a chore - something your heart isn't in, then read no farther. If you can identify with any of those feelings, I encourage you to read further.
There is no doubt that we are to be servants. Jesus set our pattern for us.
(Mark 10:44-45) and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
It's true that we are to be "slaves," according to verse 44. But that word is not "slave" as in the kind of slave we think of. It's not a service of drudgery. It was a willing servanthood. According to Strong's Lexicon, the word it is "'metaph', one who gives himself up to another's will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among me. God doesn't want resentful servants." The key to me here, is "gives himself up to another's will." Not someone forced to serve, manipulated to serve, not there begrudgingly, not doing it for legalistic reasons - nor "guilted" into it. God is Omnipotent. He could accomplish everything without our help. But He allows us the privilege of serving in His kingdom, participating in His plan. It is meant to be fulfilling, not draining.
He wants us to put our heart into what we do for the Kingdom. He doesn't want us working in our church or another ministry out of a sense of obligation, or because we are "guilted" into it. I have done that myself. Taught Sunday school for young children, simply because someone kept calling me, and I felt I was a heel if I didn't do it. So I did it. And I was untrained. And I'm not confident they learned much in my short tenure. But a valuable lesson was learned. It is a vital area of service, but I personally am not gifted for it. God doesn't want us to dread what we do for Him. Those of you who are parents, think about it - would you want your children to help you, if they resented it, or just because they feel they "have" to to get an allowance -or in order to not get punished? You want them to help you because they love you and want to be with you, and want to help you.
(Rom 12:8 NIV) if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
We can't manufacture a cheerful heart. Only God can change our feelings. But we can change our attitudes. We can pray for God to change our feelings, to either help us enjoy what we are doing for the Kingdom or else guide us into other areas. Sometimes we are burnt out because what we are doing doesn't match our gifts, like my bungled attempts at teaching Sunday School. If you find yourself having to drag yourself to meetings, or find yourself feeling trapped in a position, evaluate your gifts, and see if there might be somewhere else you can minister. If there is a good match, the service should GIVE you energy, not take it away. Or consider the possibility of taking a break. Sometimes that's all that is needed. Sometimes we come back refreshed after a few weeks off. But sometimes it's time for a change altogether. Remember, if the burden feels overwhelming, it's not from Him.
(Matt 11:29-30) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
And He wants abundant life for us, not drudgery.
(John 10:10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. God doesn't want us to "exist." He wants us to live abundantly.
Dear Father, please help us to remember that You want our service to bring us joy, not to deplete us of energy. Help us to serve You wholeheartedly. In Your Son's name, amen.
All verses are from the New American Standard Version (NASB) unless otherwise noted.