Why am I the only one doing this?
Why are those kids playing games while I’m working?
Doesn’t anyone realize what I’m doing?
Has everyone suddenly become unable to move?
These are the thoughts that commonly cross my mind as I serve in the church. And I hope I’m not the only one. To be honest, I don’t like serving. It always seems like I’m the only one helping, even though I am definitely not.
I don’t pull off the short-notice weddings and funerals.
I don’t help with children’s church.
I don’t teach any of the Bible studies.
I don’t lead worship.
I don’t preach every Sunday morning.
The list goes on.
There’s a ton that I don’t do in the church.
Then why is serving so frustrating?
Maybe because, when I serve, all I notice is who’s not helping. I don’t focus on the twenty people who are serving hamburgers and picking up dirty plates and filling the lemonade pitchers. I focus on who’s sitting around, chatting, playing games, or doing “pointless” things as I pick up chairs and sweat.
I think I’m a little too much like Martha and not enough like Mary.
You’ve heard the story.
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who was also seated at the Lord’s feet, and was listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do the serving by myself? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but only one thing is necessary; for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
Martha was a little too caught up in herself and had forgotten Who her guest was. Or maybe she remembered too well Who He was. Everything had to be prepared. Jesus was in her home, and it all had to be perfect.
Martha didn’t like feeling ignored. I commonly think, “Don’t you care that my sister (or friend or acquaintance) has left me to do all the serving alone? Tell her (or him or them) to help me.”
But Mary knew what would last forever. It wasn’t the food or the home or the decorations. Christ was in their home, and Mary chose to listen to Him. Martha was too busy making everything perfect.
Unfortunately, when I serve, I get caught up in me. Like, why do I have to do this? Why isn’t anyone helping me? Why can’t I go take a break? How long do I have to be here? I am extremely self-centered when I “serve.” I’m not God-centered.
But I need to be.
We serve in the church for many reasons. The basic principle that we serve to show love to others is just that—basic. Friend, we serve for a much greater reason!
We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 NASB)
We serve because He first served us. We serve because there’s a hurting world out there that doesn’t know Jesus. We serve because there really are people in the church who serve more than us, and they’re getting weary. We serve because it’s our calling (Galatians 5:13).
I know when Lazy Lou is nibbling on his nails and lounging in a chair that it’s hard to serve. It’s really difficult to remember these above reasons when we’re the last ones cleaning the gym…at night…in the dark…in the cold. It’s challenging to think of Jesus’ sacrifice when you have to be the one to stand up and start clearing tables after a potluck.
But Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was greater than we can imagine. He served in a much harder way than we ever will.
We are going to reap the rewards of serving (Galatians 6:9). We can’t grow weary.
There are a lot of church members growing weary and becoming burnt out and choosing not to serve anymore because they think they’ve done enough. (More on being burnt out later on…)
We can’t burn out because there’s more to do. The work never ends. This may sound depressing, but it’s truly joyous. There are more people to save, and we have the opportunity to serve them in love and show them what it means to be a Christian.
Don’t grow weary, friend. You’ll reap your reward in due time. God smiles at you as you clean up trash after a church gathering, watch kindergartners during the adult Bible study, play guitar for the service, set tables before a funeral, and simply serve to further His kingdom.
Remember Who served you first.