Recently I learned a difficult but necessary lesson regarding service to others, both inside and outside the church. God used a particular situation in my life to open my eyes to the massive structure that makes up the body of Christ — each member performing and accomplishing different tasks with one sole purpose in mind: to bring glory to our sovereign and holy God.
I want to preface my story by saying that my family is blessed to be part of a local church that is made up of some of the most giving, caring, servant-minded people you will ever meet. All the members serve the body in some way, shape, or form — some more than others, depending on each person’s season of life. But everyone willingly and gladly serves. Having said that, I’m going to explain the situation that God used to teach me this very important lesson.
For several years I was in charge of updating the weekly prayer sheet at our church. There came a point, however, when I needed to transition out of that job so that I could start serving in another capacity — updating the church calendar. My first mistake during this transitional phase was assuming there would be several people eager to take over as the “prayer sheet updater.” I expected that I would simply make an announcement regarding the need for this change and that the position would be filled quickly and seamlessly. That was not the case. While searching for someone who was willing and able to take over this job, I became very disheartened, and one day I brought up the subject to a much wiser woman than myself. She told me, “One thing I have learned – among many things – is that most likely no one will share the same burdens and love for a particular task than you do.” And she is absolutely right, which leads me to point out my second mistake: I thought that my task, my particular ministry to the church, should have been just as important to everyone else as it was to me. Never mind that everyone else was already serving the church in another way, in the way God has gifted them. Why weren’t they all jumping on this opportunity to serve in a way I thought was important? Yikes. I had a major case of tunnel vision. Talk about unfair expectations.
This situation reminds me of the fact that each believer makes up a different part of the body of Christ (Romans 12:4-5). There are arms, legs, hands, feet, eyes, pinky toes, and armpits. Each and every person is important. Every single believer should serve the church, but each person is not called to serve in the same way. Not everyone is gifted to teach or preach, serve as a deacon, play the piano, or update the prayer sheet. This idea extends even beyond the immediate needs within the worship services themselves. What about ministering outside the walls of the church building — street counseling outside the abortion clinic, or adopting or fostering a child, or doing home/building repairs for those affected by a recent storm? Are all these things good? Yes. Should we pray for all these wonderful ministries that take place both inside and outside of our churches? Without fail. Are all these things the right things for everyone to be doing? No. If everyone is an arm, who would be the leg? Or if everyone is a hand, who would be the foot (1 Corinthians 12:15-26)? We cannot expect everyone to be as passionate about a particular ministry as we are, nor can we assume that people will jump at what we believe is a wonderful opportunity. We all need to serve in the way in which God has equipped us. Praise God that He has made us all unique; therefore we can all uniquely serve the church!
And if you’re wondering about the ending to my story — a gentleman did eventually step up to take on the role of updating the weekly prayer sheet, and, if I’m honest, he’s much better at it than I ever was.