One of the greatest tragedies of living in the fallen world is that we become so self-oriented that we willingly bypass the needs of others. Even as Christians, we can be radically content to be served by Jesus in His life, death, and resurrection, and yet be radically content to not serve others.
As Christians, we must not let this misplaced contentment abide in our hearts. Instead, we must “train ourselves in godliness” by committing our lives to serve others. Indeed, Jesus told us:
Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. — Luke 9:23–24 CSB
Die to yourself. Those are strong words. Yes, indeed. But they are strong words with a promise: you will save your life! Translation: you will experience the true and rich blessings from God as you commit to serve people in this life. For all of us who claim to follow Jesus, this is a non-negotiable. Because He has served us greatly, we serve others sacrificially.
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. — Philippians 2:5–8 CSB
At Stonegate, we talk a lot about servant-leadership, because we believe true leaders serve and true servants lead. Scan the leadership section at Barnes and Noble next time you’re there and you’ll notice that this is something consistently taught by authors on leadership today.5
The point is simple: the ones who lead people most effectively are the ones who serve people most faithfully. Practically, what does this actually look like? Here are some suggestions:
Start with the People Around You. Before you try to save the world and inaugurate world peace, you may start with being kind to your spouse, encouraging your co-worker, taking dinner to a neighbor, or picking up trash around your office. Jesus hasn’t called you to save the world (that’s His job), but He has called you to walk in a spirit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control” (Galatians 5:22–23) with the people in your life. Right now, think of 2–3 people you know you need to begin serving with your words, your attitude, and your deeds and start there.
Talk to a Ministry Leader About Where to Serve. You already know this, but Stonegate is a big church family full of lots of kids and lots of places to serve. As a result, we genuinely desire for people to plug in, start serving, and experience the personal discipleship that comes as a result. You can call the church office at (432)694-5100 or speak to someone at the info desk on Sundays.
As you think about this, realize that you never graduate from the basic “little things” of serving. Sometimes you don’t see the immediate impact of your serving and sometimes you do. As anyone who’s followed Jesus for a while can tell you, there are seasons of planting–when you invest a lot of time and energy—and there are also seasons of harvest—when the fruits of your labor really shine bright.
Sometimes these seasons overlap, but in the end we serve primarily because we are followers of our great King-Jesus who served us unto His death. This great King promises a life of true joy through a discipline of service. Serving is not flashy and its not fancy, but it is faithful to the call of discipleship Jesus gave us. Moreover, God richly rewards us with deeper experiences of His presence as we commit to a lifestyle of service.