Spiritual Growth Challenge: Actively Serving Others

Todd J. Forrest, MA
Faculty, College of Theology

Students piling their hands between them

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson


Whether our time is invested in ancient literature, in sacred literature or in Facebook pop culture, there is always a challenge to our self-absorbed lives to look beyond our needs to others. The modern voices above continue to echo the admonition of St. Paul as he states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3, 4).

Okay, so this is the “what,” so “how” do we do this? It is not about our age or skill or popularity or wealth. It all has to do with us. What will you do? In order to anchor service to your life, you must surrender your life. There are three areas to address as you begin to embrace personal surrender:

Surrender Your Agenda

Your agenda is the means by which you serve others. You may want to go across the globe doing mission work or develop a unique medical talent. Pursuits like this are important, but don’t let this hold you back. When you fully surrender your agenda, your work for your neighbor is just as important, if done for the Lord. You just need to orient your life to meeting needs within your ability.

Surrender Your Schedule

Once you have torn yourself from reflecting on yourself, you then have to address when to do it. It is not a secret, everyone is busy. Therefore, a pattern of serving others requires surgery on your schedule. Helping others, in my experience, does not easily fit my calendar. Quite honestly, it happens at inopportune times. When I am already late, someone needs prayer. When I want to relax and do nothing is when someone needs my assistance. I come face to face with “me” again and have to choose to give my time when it’s inconvenient.

Surrender Your Perspective

This last surrender is addressing the perspective of who you will serve. The low hanging fruit of personal satisfaction is helping the poor, the elderly, the younger, etc. They are all important places to serve and are great places to start. When your “serving perspective” gains strength you will begin to explore broader areas of influence.

How do you balance service to your family, your church, friends and strangers, locally, globally, with your time, your finances, your skills, to a broad spectrum of people, most of which you will never thank you or see the fullness of your investment? Yes, it can seem daunting because when you really begin to serve you see just how much need there is!

The greatest plan is to take a small step, serve someone new today. Pray every morning for Christ to show you, someone, with whom you can reveal Jesus by serving.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.