Several weeks ago we invited a some of our friends that are serving throughout the city of Hamilton to spend the evening at LIFT so that our community was better aware of the opportunities and the need to serve our city.
If you have ever wondered how you could serve those around you, working through these questions may help lead you find out how! We would invite you to prayerfully consider how God may be calling you to serve the communities you find yourself in.
1. You Feed Them.
In Mark 6:30-37, the disciples note the discomfort and need of the crowd who had come to hear Jesus. When they brought it to his attention, he said, “you feed them.”
Can you think of an area of discomfort/need/oppression/brokenness that you’ve brought to God’s attention? Maybe you’ve brought it to His attention repeatedly. Is it possible He is telling you to “feed them?”
2. Redeeming Hurt
Sometimes God uses the ways we’ve been hurt to make us more sensitive to the pain of others. How have you been hurt in the past? How might this make you better equipped to serve?
3. Channel Your Passion
What are the things you truly enjoy doing? You can think about this in terms of skills and experience, the types of people you enjoy being around (e.g., crowds vs. individuals, young vs. old, etc.), the types of organizations you enjoy being a part of (large vs. small, well organized vs. organic), etc. How can the things you enjoy doing be (re)directed to be used for God’s kingdom?
4. What in History Inspires You?
Is there a particular period of the church’s history, or a story in Scripture, that stands out to you as a time when God’s followers “got it right?” What specifically about this story appeals to you? Is it people standing up against a specific injustice? The way believers worked together? The skills and organization that were employed?
5. Where can we improve?
Is there something that you assume the church should do a better job of doing? Perhaps you feel the church should be taking a stand on a specific issue, or relating to a certain group of people in a more loving way… You have to be cautious in assuming that “every Christian” ought to get excited about the things that you get excited about. However, sometimes our frustrations over what others aren’t doing can give clues as to what areas of service we ought to prioritize ourselves.
Discerning God’s call to serve is not always easy. The following points are also worth considering as you struggle with some of the tensions that result when extending oneself in service to others.
It takes patience, time and effort
It’s important to be patient and be willing to invest a lot of time in a person/organization before you begin to see fruit. For example, Lift’s current relationship with the Ronald McDonald House and the McMaster community are the result of years of investment and prayer. Prior to seeing fruit, you will most likely experience failures and awkward moments. Often, this is God preparing your heart to serve in a more authentic way.
As much as it’s useful to think about the specific ways God has created you to serve, it’s also important to be open to new experiences. Sometimes we need to take a step of faith and try something new in order to recognize that we have a passion for something. God has a wonderful way of taking that initial first step, however uncertain or misdirected, and allowing it to grow into something that makes a powerful difference in the lives of others. Most often, are hearts are broken for specific causes or issues through our relationships with people. If you don’t have relationships that have made you more aware of some of the needs in the world, perhaps you need to pray that God would give you ‘ears to hear and eyes to see’ the things that break His heart (Prov. 20:12).
There’s an ongoing tension between fostering passions as individuals and recognizing that God intends for us to serve our world as a community of Christ followers. We can’t champion every cause or organization, but hopefully we can be a place where people are challenged to serve in a variety of ways.
Anyone who serves others will likely experience burnout at some point. Learning to recognize the signs of it is important, and sustaining hope is key. What needs to be done to sustain hope will vary somewhat person to person, but in order to truly be sustainable, it needs to be rooted in Christ and in community.