INSIDE: You know you are supposed to serve in ministry, but does it seems like a burden rather than a blessing? Do you avoid it altogether? Learn how to get past these feelings and serve with joy!
The pastor had just dismissed us from service. I quickly gathered up my 5 children and headed home for lunch. There was a Children’s Ministry Volunteer meeting after church that I did not want to attend. Later that afternoon, my husband and I were attending a church leadership class and the Children’s Ministry leader approached me. “I missed you at the meeting today. But no big deal, I have copies of the papers for you.”
Uhmmm…this was about to get awkward.
“I’m sorry, but no thanks. I didn’t attend the meeting because I don’t have any desire to serve in the Children’s Ministry right now.”
While he was visibly shocked at first, he handled it graciously and assured me he didn’t want me to be a part of it if I wasn’t truly interested. He never brought it up again and pleasantly took my children off my hands each Sunday with a smile on his face.
Whew! Dodged that bullet, right? Well, maybe.
Was I wrong to not want to serve in Children’s Ministry?
Was I being selfish? After all, I have 5 kids who are all being taken care of each week. Aren’t I kind of obligated?
On the other hand, why it is always assumed that I should be serving in the Children’s Ministry just because I have 5 kids?! Maybe, just maybe, I need a break!
Why is it that women, mom’s in particular, are the ones that are always asked to teach the kids SS class, run Children’s Church, and hold babies in the nursery? But this isn’t just about changing diapers and passing out Bible hero coloring sheets.
Many women struggle with this sense of obligation and end up serving in ministry out of guilt rather than calling.
Are you one of them? Or are you one of the ones that ducks out quickly to avoid being roped in like I did that day after church?
The fact is, friend, serving is not optional.
As a Christian, you are called to serve your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.James 2:14-17 English Standard Version
Now, we know that when we read these verses in context, they are definitely NOT saying that you must do works in order to be saved. But rather that if you are saved, it will be your natural inclination to want to do good works. In other words, if you are saved, you should serve because you should want to serve.
So why don’t you feel that way?
There are 2 main reasons.
The first is that you are worn out! Whether it is physical exhaustion or illness, emotional weariness, or spiritual emptiness, there are times in your life where you cannot pour out anymore because you need to be filled back up. And that is okay. Sometimes, you just need to step back, take a break, and rest up.
But the 2nd reason can often be the root of the first.
Here is what I mean:
The reason I hadn’t wanted to serve in Children’s Ministry in our new church was that I had served in this particular ministry for so long in our previous church and really didn’t enjoy it. I served because I felt like I had to, not because I wanted to. There was some guilt mingled with some pride and, though I didn’t do a bad job, I wasn’t joyful and certainly didn’t have a servant’s heart about it.
Can you relate?
But God doesn’t just want you to check the boxes, He wants your heart.
It is not what you do so much as why you do it that matters! When you serve for the wrong reasons, you do it on your own strength which means that it is only a matter of time before you can’t do it any longer. And if you are foolish enough to continue serving once you are out of strength, like I did, you will become ornery and even bitter.
Can this really be avoided? I mean, the verse in James is just one of many that affirm our need to serve. So what can be done if you don’t want to serve in ministry?
1 – What am I good at?
Now don’t go shrugging this question off like you aren’t good at anything so there is no point in asking!
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.1 Peter 4:10 English Standard Version
The Bible tells us that God has given every person gifts that He intends for them to use to His glory.
Are you musically inclined? Can you teach? Are you a good cook? Do you have a knack for making others feel comfortable? Can you write, sew, or change a light bulb?
Maybe your gift isn’t just a talent, but something more tangible. Do you have spare time? Room in your car? Extra income that can be shared?
Set a timer for 5 min and make a list of anything and everything you can possibly think of that you are naturally good at or physically have that you can share.
2 – What am I excited about? And what am I not?
Now, this may sound similar to question #1, but it differs in an important way. For example, two gifts God has given me are my ability to teach and my transparency. Combine this with my excitement about being in groups of people and you will find that I am a willing and able Women’s Ministry leader or ladies Bible study teacher.
That being said, I really don’t enjoy being with groups of kids. In fact, other than my own, I rather avoid this at all cost! So serving in children’s ministry has never been something that I have really enjoyed. That was why I only lasted a short time before regretting taking on that responsibility.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.Romans 12:11 English Standard Version
So what is it that you genuinely enjoy doing? Are you a people person who feels energized by large groups or is one-on-one more your thing? Are you someone who doesn’t mind being in front of the assembly or are you more of a behind the scenes gal? Do you feel a deep sense of compassion for a particular age group?
Take another 5 mins and jot down things that you really like doing in general. Then try to think about how they might be used as your serve in ministry.
3 – Where am I needed?
Okay, this is the last question that ultimately ties everything together. Once you have combined your gifts and talents with what you are passionate about, it is time to see if there is a ministry for that combination. If there is, ask if they are in need of your help! Easy peasy, right?
If there isn’t currently a ministry that fits your gifting and passion, but you feel like you are up for taking on the weight of starting this ministry, talk to your pastor.
I have a friend who feels passionate about foster care but cannot foster herself so she started a closet ministry for foster parents in a spare bedroom in her house. She collects clothes and supplies for all ages, organizes them, and stores them. Then, when foster families in the area have needs, they reach out to her and she is able to help.
But what about when there is no ministry and you don’t want to or can’t start one? Or when the ministry you would love to serve in just doesn’t need your talents at this moment? Or, worse yet, what if there is a BIGGER need in a ministry you don’t want to serve in?
Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.Philippians 2:4 English Standard Version
A mere 6 months after that conversation with the Children’s Ministry leader, Covid hit. Our church, like many others, had to stop meeting and many staff members had their responsibilities reduced or shifted in a new direction. As the reopening process began to take shape, it ended up that our small church campus had no one to run the Children’s Ministry.
Can you guess what happened next?
I was approached by one of the pastors and asked to step up. My experience leading this ministry in my previous church, along with my organizational skills and teaching ability made me an obvious choice. I kind of saw this coming and had already felt a softening in my heart from the Lord so I accepted the position. I then began to pray that God would give me the heart to serve for His glory and He has!
Will God keep me here for the long haul? I don’t know. I would still love to be a part of leadership in Women’s Ministry someday, but as long as God has me with the kidos, I will serve to the best of my ability because it is not about me and what I want.
Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.1 Sam 12:24 English Standard Version
Ultimately, serving in ministry is about Him and what He wants for you!
What is that exactly? For you to die daily to your desires and seek His will for your life.
So, do you love to sing, but carry a tune in a bucket? Don’t feel confident about teaching or leading? Not called to head out on the next mission trip?
The most obvious ministries are not the only places there are opportunities to serve. Here are something other ways you might consider serving:
- Printing and folding bulletins
- Preparing meals for group meetings or freezer meals to be passed out when members are in need
- Volunteer with the finance committee
- Work with the tech people (Seriously, you don’t have to be very tech-savvy! They often just need someone who can press the spacebar to change the slide.)
- Seasonally deep cleaning the building
- Visiting those that cannot attend church for some reason or provide transportation to a member that cannot drive, whether that is to church, doctor appts or just the store
- Writing notes of encouragement to members (I STILL have a card that was sent to me years ago just letting me know I was a good mom and to keep doing what I was doing even on hard days.)
- Open your home up for a place where groups can meet (That doesn’t mean you have to be the leader, but being the host helps to lighten the leader’s load.)
- Offering to babysit for a mom with young kids so she can have just 2 hours to herself once a week, or just offer to visit to have coffee and chat so she can interact with an adult
Though our call to serve should start in the local church body, it isn’t limited to there alone.
There are lots of community ministries like pregnancy centers, battered women’s shelters, soup kitchens, and similar organizations that are often in need of extra hands. Just because your church isn’t affiliated with a particular organization, it doesn’t mean God can’t use you there so be open to whatever opportunities He provides!
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.Colossians 3:23-24 English Standard Version
Are you already serving in a ministry and feel like it is failing? Check out this post 3 Terrible Ways to Measure Your Ministry for encouragement.
Friend, you and I are called to serve our fellow Christian brothers and sisters as well as a world that does not know Jesus but that may come to know Him because of the works they see you doing.
So let your light shine before others as you point to the source of the light that is within you, Jesus.