Being Willing to Serve

The church we attend is a small-ish size church, humble with a couple hundred members who meet together week after week. One of the things that comes with going to a smaller church is that everyone ends up needing to pitch in, plug the holes to keep the church afloat…

Whether those holes look appealing or not.

That has been something that’s cropped up recently for me: opportunities to serve in areas that I typically wouldn’t volunteer for, areas that I don’t particularly feel gifted in, areas that I feel inadequate to undertake.

And yet, we can’t always let those things stop us from serving.

To be sure, there will be times when we shouldn’t serve, when our schedules are already stress-inducing and we’ve already stripped them bare of all the extras. Or when we’re already serving our hearts out and need to let others pick up the slack. Or when the Holy Spirit impresses upon us ever so clearly that this is not the place for us.

But what about other times? When we could, but we don’t really want to? When we could, but we don’t really feel up to the task? When we could, but it’s just inconvenient?

I struggle with this myself, guarding my time and commitments so that I’m not stretched thin and can give fully to those causes that the Lord has already put in my path.

Recently, I was asked to step up and and serve in our church in a couple of areas that I didn't feel like I was "ready" for. Honestly, I felt inadequate for the position. It can be so easy to hear about a need in the church and say, “I don’t feel called to do that. I’m not gifted in that way.” And then walk away from the things that need to be done.

And yet, I know that God does not always ask us to do that which we find fulfilling or satisfying, because the floors still need to be scrubbed and the trash taken out and who really feels “called” to do those things? I know that God often asks us to step out in faith, to those places that feel uncomfortable, that stretch us, that humble us, that make us rely on him.

I wanted to say no and leave those tasks to someone else and avoid taking the risk that I might fail at them.

Instead, I said yes.

I said yes because my church needed me. Because the church saw beyond my shortcomings and encouraged me not to let my fears hold me back. Because even if I don't yet feel it in my heart, doesn't mean it's not from Him. Because sometimes we have a hard time recognizing His gifts until they are in hindsight.

In these instances, I did not feel pressured to take up the tasks. I did not feel like the Holy Spirit was telling me no—which I have experienced in the past and consequently turned down volunteer opportunities that were presented to me. Instead, I felt like this truly was an opportunity to step up to the plate and out in faith and let God take care of all the gaps that I saw that stood in the way.

And are you surprised to learn that I was not disappointed?

One of those serving needs was to teach a couple of women’s Sunday School classes, where I am barely older than most of the women (and much younger in a few cases!). I've taught one class and will be teaching another this Sunday. After that first class, I walked away amazed at how God made that little hour so fruitful. I had been afraid it wouldn’t be deep enough or challenging enough or any other string of “enoughs.”

Instead, I was humbled at how the conversations had been encouraging and engaging, at how God took my reluctant willingness and brought such beauty from it, which I never would have expected if I hadn’t trusted him with the opportunity and followed along far enough to see for myself.

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  1. I loved this: "pitch in, plug the holes to keep the church afloat."

    For me, it is a matter of whether the need meets my skills. Sometimes I need to learn new skills, which I'm willing to do as long as my family can serve together.

    This weekend, we helped prepare food for the homeless and poor in our town. This is WAY outside my skill set and comfort zone.

    This morning, I worked on the church website.

    My kids went with me to serve food. They did not work with me on the website.

    Mostly, though, I try not to let service become a "work". I need to work hard, but I do so in the freedom of grace.

  2. Yay for you! Quick question, though: we also attend a very small church, and we also need everyone to pitch in from time to time. The only problem is that sometimes (like now) there are so many holes to fill that the same people (probably because we happen to be around) tend to get asked again and again. Right now, I am our church's web master, Facebook guru, online calendar updater (we have a sweet but aged office manager who can't quite handle Outlook), in charge of finding greeters for the month of November, and also in charge of a monthly post-church new-members social time that I'm always looking for volunteers for. Others have just as much on their plates, and I have to confess that I'm getting a bit burned out. But I'm torn: how can someone say "no" to a request to serve their church and, through it, their Lord? Sorry to unload, but I'm intrigued at what you might thing.

  3. Great insightful post!

    I loved this -> It can be so easy to hear about a need in the church and say, “I don’t feel called to do that. I’m not gifted in that way.”

    It certainly is amazing how God can turn our inadequacies into blessings, just when we least expect it. The tough part is choosing to step out of that comfort zone!

  4. Laura, I definitely can relate to the times when serving can become overwhelming because it feels like no one else is willing to step up and you end up doing more and more. The thing is, that we're called to be a church BODY, each serving and doing our own part. So I definitely feel that there are times you can and probably should say “no” to taking on new responsibilities. There have been times when I’ve been asked to take on new volunteering positions and I’ve declined because I’m already volunteering in other areas and I want to be committed to doing those areas well.

    Perhaps you might want to talk to someone in leadership at your church about the need for more folks in the congregation to be encouraged to plug the holes if there are those who are attending but aren’t involved. Maybe everyone thinks that you love taking on more and more stuff without realizing how much of a burden it’s becoming for you? Don’t forget in these kinds of situations to pray that more people at your church will step up and volunteer. Sometimes, that’s all it takes!

  5. ...I think I'm reading this at the absolute "right" time. Can't share more than that just yet, but remind me in a couple weeks if I don't tell you before then. Cause my reading this is actually really quite a God-thing. :)

    Also, I'd love to be in your Sunday school class. I can definitely see how God would use you in that way. So glad you're following His lead because He will always make sure that what unfolds is enough to bring Him glory. :)

  6. I love how you said, "the floors still need to be scrubbed and the trash taken out and who really feels “called” to do those things?". This really made me think. thank you!


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