It doesn’t take long in any relationship to feel the difficulty of serving. When someone goes along with our plan, serving them is easy. But when they push back on everything, aren’t interested, or don’t even notice our help, the task of serving can become overwhelming.
As a mom, wife, friend, and ministry leader, I experience this in my everyday life; I’m sure you do, too. Sometimes serving comes easily, and sometimes it can be difficult. I often focus on the difficulty it’s causing me and not on the needs of the one I’m trying to serve.
But I, too, can be hard to serve. I don’t always make it easy for others to offer up their help for my benefit. Can you relate? As we consider the challenge of serving others, we must honestly evaluate our reluctance to receive help. We don’t often consider how difficult we can be to serve. Yet there is one who gave himself in the most profound way to do just that.
Jesus Is Our Example
Jesus exemplifies a servant leader. He serves those he leads and calls us to do the same. In John 13, we read the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. This act was usually carried out by a servant, not a leader, but Jesus does it as an example to the disciples and to us (John 13:13–15). When Jesus goes to the cross, he’s reviled and rejected. Yet he lays his life down for those who are crucifying him. Whatever our particular calling, looking to Jesus empowers us to serve those who are hard to serve. Click To Tweet
As a church planter, you’re called to lead others faithfully. That calling leads you to shepherd the flock and faithfully serve your congregation through the ups and downs of life. Because Jesus gave up his life to serve his followers, we, too, can sacrifice to serve others—whether they’re our church family or our kids, our friends, neighbors, or acquaintances. Whatever our particular calling, looking to Jesus empowers us to serve those who are hard to serve.
The Holy Spirit Is Our Guide
Just because we have an example doesn’t mean we can serve like Jesus on our own. But as those who are united with Christ, we have the power through which it can be done—the very power of God!
The power of the Spirit now resides in us, and the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to serve. We can rest in the Spirit when things feel too difficult. When situations and people get the best of us, and we feel worn down and defeated, he is the One who fills us with what we need to keep going. The Spirit helps us to lay down our selfish desires, and instead, desire the good of others—and teaches us to find joy in doing so.
Jesus Is Our Substitute
We have Jesus as our example and the Holy Spirit as our guide, but we will still fall short when serving others. But we do have hope because Jesus is not only our example, he’s our substitute. The best of us are lousy servants much of the time, but Christ served perfectly—and his righteousness is ours. This is the gospel hope that should motivate our service.
Further, as we delight in our union with Christ, our service will stem from gratitude for how he has served us rather than from obligation, moralism, or a legalistic desire to save ourselves. Because of his righteousness, we’re able to serve others well.
Keep Pressing On
Jesus came to serve people who rejected him. He took on flesh, lived a perfect life, died a death he didn’t deserve, rose on the third day, and ascended to the right hand of the Father where he now intercedes for us. Because of him, we’re now indwelt with the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to serve others while looking to Jesus as our great example and perfect substitute. As we delight in our union with Christ, our service will stem from gratitude for how he has served us rather than from obligation, moralism, or a legalistic desire to save ourselves. Click To Tweet
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus tells us we must deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow him. Laying ourselves down for the way of Christ does have a cost. It’s something we must do over and over again because we’re self-oriented by nature. We must remind ourselves that we, too, can be difficult, but Jesus came to serve us. Because of him, we can serve other difficult people. We don’t need the approval or appreciation of others—Jesus has called us to serve, and we’ve already been approved in him.
So, keep pressing on in service, knowing you don’t serve others in vain. There’s joy in surrendering all you have to the Lord and allowing him to use it to serve others. Be encouraged in who Christ is and who he equips you to be—someone willing to lay yourself down for the service of others as you delight in Jesus’s perfect service.