Serve to Get or Get to Serve

Why do people serve? There is more than one motivation for serving. Sometimes we serve in order to get something. I googled “why serve” and went to a college website. This website gave answers to “what am I going to get out of serving?” They came in three primary “to get” motivations:

1. Serving allows you to get to know yourself.

People serve in order to learn about themselves. What am I good at? What do I struggle with? What makes me feel alive? What are my values? What’s my place in the world? How can I challenge myself? Serving to get to know yourself is a great reason to serve.

2. Serving opens the door to get others to want you.

You can use service opportunities to build your resume with experiences that employers covet. It’s a great chance to develop job and interpersonal skills as well as network career contacts. In this way people will want you.

3. Serving is an opportunity to get to meet the needs of others.

When we see suffering and pain, compassion wells up within us and should. For many the suffering other elicits a desire to do something. So you want to get to meet needs. We want to do something to alleviate their pain and sometimes to soothe our guilt. These are good “to get” reasons to serve.

But, what happens when we get what we are serving for? We get to know ourselves better, others want us, and needs get met. Then what?
Maybe there are deeper reasons to continue to serve and to volunteer. We can serve to get and we can get to serve. Let’s consider two reasons we “get to” serve. Now these two reasons only valid if you believe in a Creator God and/or you’re a Christian. If you do not believe that God created you, the first reason will not make much sense. And if you’re not a Christian, the second reason to get to serve won’t apply.

These reasons come to us from Paul the Apostle who hated Christians then became one. In a letter to a church in the city of ancient Ephesus, he writes:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”—Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV).

1. You get to serve because God created you to serve.

God created us to serve others and by serving others we serve Him. We get to do this because it is part of being human.

2. If you are a Christian, you get to serve because Jesus saved you to serve.

Once saved, Jesus doesn’t just take us to heaven, we stay on earth to restore His creation. We get to stay to serve because we have been saved to serve. We serve to get but we also get to serve. So, find a place to serve.

Become a Story Teller

What is on my to “do list” today? Write a message, answer email, stop at the store, get gas, etc. But as I’m doing those things and interacting with the people on the way, what is my mission? What am I about as I’m about doing many tasks?
Jesus tells us what our mission:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”—Acts 1:8 (ESV).

Jesus make it clear that: Our witness is our mission!

What is a witness? A witness is telling someone what you have seen and heard (Acts 4:19–20). A witness is a story teller. It is telling what you know. When you are on the witness stand in court, the judge is not interested in your ideas or opinions; he only wants to hear what you know. All God’s people are expected to be witnesses, be story tellers. Every Christian can tell his or her story by including these three steps:

  1. what your life was like before Jesus
  2. how you met Jesus
  3. and what difference Jesus has made in your life.

While some of God’s people have a calling to evangelism (Ephesians 4:11), all of God’s people are expected to be witnesses and tell others your story with the Savior. Not every Christian can bring a sinner to the place of faith and decision (though most of us could do better), but every Christian can tell their story of how Jesus transformed his or her life. How powerful is it when a non-pastor Christian tells what they know about Jesus rather than calling the pastor in to tell his story? The pastor will seem like a salesman. The non-pastor Christian will sound like a satisfied customer. And when we tell our story, God uses it to change another life.

”A truthful witness saves lives”—Proverbs 14:25 (ESV).

So as you are going about doing your “to do” list this week, remember that you are on a mission to witness. Tell your story. Who knows God might use you to save a life!