3 Myths About Service (and How Scripture Wrecks Them)
Lately, I’ve been re-reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Over decades, it’s proved extremely useful for uncovering the various ways in which I am lying to myself. More accurately, perhaps, it helps me better discern the voice of the enemy whispering to my soul.
I’m big into spiritual warfare. I don’t see a demon hiding behind every piece of furniture. Instead, what I routinely discover crawling around in the darker corners of my soul are my own laziness, apathy, and (quite frankly) desire to do other things.
Progress for me comes when I speak these temptations out loud. Getting temptations out of my head and allowing them to pass unfiltered through my lips allows me (and other trusted Christians) to see the true me, warts and all.
One that I frequently end up naming is the temptation not to serve others. From what I see in myself and hear from others, listed below are the three most common reasons people give (or hear in their heads) to not serve others.
Not serving impoverishes the individual Christian who succumbs to the temptation and their church family. When resisted, the whole church benefits.
Myth No. 1: My weeks are hectic. I don't have time.
The truth is, we make time for the things that truly matter to us.
Whenever I hear myself say something like this, I take a step back and evaluate. Usually, what I am really saying is that I’d rather play Wordle than pray for someone in need. I’d rather watch Season 4 of “Stranger Things” than leave my home after 6:00 p.m. to help a brother who calls. As a result, I’ve had to learn to budget my time as carefully as my money. They’re both finite.
There are approximately eight gazillion free apps out there for smartphones that can help you better monitor how you really spend your time (as opposed to how you’d like to believe you spend your time), as well as productivity apps galore. Use whatever works best to help you “tithe” more of your waking hours to the Lord. For me, it also helps to remember that I will be called one day to give an account of how I've spent my days.
Myth No. 2: I don't have much to offer. I'm not especially gifted.
Nonsense. For starters, everyone, absolutely everyone, can pray.
God’s word makes it abundantly clear that he has given his church absolutely everything it needs. He’s just distributed it unevenly! I’m not much of a prayer warrior, but I have close friends who are. Others are far more financially gifted and so are able to faithfully support ministry efforts in that way. If you can send a text, you can minister to others.
Take a few minutes to ask other people what you are good at. Listen carefully and record their responses without judgment. Pray over those responses. Take a look at the serving opportunities at your church. Pray over those, too!
Commit to converting prayer into action, even if you’re unsure of your choice. Give yourself a finite window of time to mull things, then jump in. Trust God to use you, even if it means shifting you around until you find the best fit.
Myth No. 3: Works don't justify us before God. (points for accuracy, here)
Satan’s best lies are the ones that contain 95% truth. Yes, your works do not justify you before God, but God has saved you to good works. Jesus did not save me so that I could binge Netflix and spend “my” money however I choose. He has more in store.
My salvation does not hinge on my performance of works — thank God! — but over the years, he has faithfully taken me deeper and deeper into serving others to his (and my) great joy.
Be careful of over-theologizing yourself out of the clear commands of Scripture. Many people call themselves Christians and yet consistently disobey Jesus by cherry-picking verses to care about. I was one of those people, and repentance has been a real balm to my soul. If you don’t want to serve, start down the path of at least confessing this out loud to God and a few trusted others.
If you are ready to reject these three common myths about serving, take time right now to explore ways to start serving in your local church community.