It’s a huge honor to serve the Lord, but we can serve until we are exhausted and our joy is gone. What’s wrong?
Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV)
If my burden is too heavy, maybe it’s because God never asked me to carry it. I say I’m serving God, but sometimes I do things to please people. I don’t want to tell them no. God may not want me to do everything people want me to do. I need to take responsibility for my decisions. If I agree to do something, that’s my decision. I have no right to resent it.
So how do you know what God is asking you to do and what you are doing for other reasons? Here are some questions that might help you think through the next task you are asked to do.
Am I gifted in this area?
Do my spiritual gifts or natural abilities make this job a good fit? Serving God with your gifts and abilities in ministries you can get excited about will put joy in your ministry.
Could the Lord be asking me to grow in this area?
Maybe I don’t feel confident in this new task, but serving the Lord in new ways is one way to identify spiritual gifts. No one does a task perfectly from the beginning. Maybe I need to try this new task to stretch myself.
Is this job something that needs to be done?
It’s easy to start church programs, but difficult to phase them out. Talk about ending a program can sound like the program was never worthwhile in the first place. But if there are not enough workers to carry out a program, it could mean God wants us to end it.
We always need to look at ways to lower maintenance, especially when we are short-handed. Sometimes it’s easier to convert a garden to lawn or bark chips than to beg for workers to weed it.
Maybe we need to eliminate the job, rather than plead for workers.
Is this something I can and should do just because it needs doing?
I may not truly enjoy cleaning the church, watching the nursery, cooking for potluck dinners, or pulling weeds, but some of these things just need to be done. Maybe I need to do it, out of love for the Lord, because it’s a need I can fill.
Is this job something that only I can do?
If I’m the only pianist at church and there are others who are good at hospitality, maybe I need to put my time and priority into playing the piano.
In Taiwan, for a period of time, I watched the nursery every Sunday morning. I had about five little Chinese boys, who were used to getting their own way and who were used to different cultural play rules than mine. Every Sunday I would say, “I sure hope I get a reward in heaven for this!” Watching the nursery was very stressful, but I did it because every other mother at church wasn’t even saved and needed to hear the sermon.
What can someone else do?
As a missionary I should be working myself out of a job. If I can teach someone else to do a job, that’s often better, even if they have far less experience than I do. Sometimes no one else will volunteer as long as I am willing to fulfil a certain role. Maybe I need to be encouraging someone else to learn my job instead of doing it year after year.
If the joy in your ministry is sputtering, go to God with these questions and ask him to show you what he wants you to do. With his strength and encouragement you can do all he asks you to do–with joy.
[Image courtesy of yu liufu/Deposit Photos.]