What does “serving God” mean?
What does serving God look like?
I grew up in an era when every young person I knew was encouraged to go into full-time Christian service. All of us. It was considered the most you could aspire to, the one field of work that really meant you’d given yourself to God, really proved you were a dedicated servant of Christ. Oh, goodness, if you committed yourself to full-time Christian service as a young person, you were lifted up as an example for everyone, treated as if you’d made the best decision of them all…the only one you really could make and still be seen as a faithful Christian young person. I’m not saying my parents were this way – they actually weren’t so much – but the culture of Christianity around us WAS this way. Most people who were Christian teens in the 80s and 90s probably can attest to this.
But oh my, if you were a young person who wanted to go into any other profession, you were seen as stepping away, automatically backsliding, going into *gasp* secular work. The only exceptions to this were a nurse (or doctor), or the military. Even the military was looked at a bit askance, fearful, but at least it was honorable, you know? As if being a Christian business man is somehow not honorable.
I do believe this attitude has had repercussions for our country that we are just now seeing really take hold, but that’s not my point right now.
I once worked in a ministry that met every Friday at our church, and the powers-that-be decided my husband and I would be working in the children’s side of that ministry. At that time, I had six kids of my own at home, three of them under the age of seven. I volunteered with a different children’s ministry on Sundays and a third children’s ministry on Saturdays. I was with children all day every day.
I resented being put into a ministry with kids again, I resented not having been given a voice in the decision as well. I was not equipped for that position and felt as if I were being forced into this ministry simply because I was young and had kids of my own. Furthermore, I had looked forward to being part of the adult program in this ministry, and now I’d have to forego that completely.
However, I did my duty. I showed up on Fridays. I even grew to be able to put my heart into it and put real dedication and energy into what I did with those kids those days.
I was at church. I was helping people. I was teaching the Bible. Still…I don’t really think God saw much of that as service to Him. It wasn’t done with the right heart attitude, especially at first.
What does “serving God” mean?
What does “serving God” mean? Does it mean you are working at church? What if you’re a volunteer at church, are you still serving God? Do you have to be paid – because people can’t really volunteer full time usually? On the other hand, does being paid actually mean you’re not serving God, but actually serving mammon? Which part of church work is considered serving God? Does it have to be leadership? What about the church janitor? What about the person whose only ministry is the nursery once a month? Are they serving God too? Does it have to be a preaching position? The questions go on and on.
What if that’s not serving God at all? I mean, what if that’s not ALL that serving God is. What if serving God means, literally, whatever you do, do to the glory of God. What if that’s literal? It’s a Bible verse, by the way.
(Colossians 3:17) And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Let me give you a different example.
I currently work at my local grocery store in the deli. I’ve asked God to help me be a good witness at this secular job, and what I’ve found is that people pour their hearts out to a friendly stranger behind a deli counter.
I feel as if I’ve ministered to many people simply by standing there and letting them talk, then trying to say what God puts on my heart to say to them.
I’ve seen people crying over lost loved ones and been able to help guide them to where they might find a support group. I’ve listened as people told me their troubles and asked my opinion. I’ve felt God making connections in ways I hadn’t imagined possible in a ten minute encounter while a person is buying turkey, ham, and cheddar cheese from me. I’m not at the church building during these instances. I’m not even talking to people who attend my church, and yet I can see this as a service to God. The true connection with people, the ministering to hearts as God leads – no matter what building we’re standing in. Furthermore, showing up on time to my shift, making product in the best way I know how, being efficient, being a good worker – it’s all in service to God if that’s my heart attitude.
Service to God can happen anywhere, and it should. That’s my point.
So…does that mean the IT guy who answers your phone call can be serving God by helping you avoid the blue screen of death?
Does that mean the carpenter could be serving God by building a good solid staircase?
Does that mean the car mechanic can serve God by providing the best service he can and being honest to the people who know nothing about cars?
Or the cartoonist could be serving God by making quality wholesome entertainment for kids?
What about the grocery store clerk who smiles while she helps you check out your items?
Or the stay-at-home mom who spends most of her days changing diapers and watching Bluey with a two-year-old?
It doesn’t make sense that God would tell his people that they can only serve Himself if they’re in a limited subset of the working world, does it. Can churches afford to hire every single Christian? Umm, no. It doesn’t make sense that EVERY young person who gets saved must go into full-time Christian service. Who are they serving? Where are the non-full-time servants? And are they then not really serving God since they’re not doing full-time work in the church? (yes, the argument has come full circle.)
No, if you’re a child of God, you ARE serving God in EVERY thing you do. In that service, you should be doing your best, being a witness of Him, being a good representative of who His children ought to be…but you ARE serving God in EVERY job, whether it happens in a church building or a high-rise office or a workshop downtown or a farm field in the country. Our job as a Christian is to be offering every task we undertake as a service to God.
So don’t look at your job as a drudge, look at it as service to God, because that’s how God sees it.
And don’t think that just because you’re doing church work then you MUST automatically be serving God.
Serving God is an attitude of the heart, not a specific work of the hands or head.
(1 Sam. 15:22)
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
Look at your attitude first, then do your best no matter what God has put into your hands, and THEN you will be serving God.