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When Serving Makes A Splash

The noise of water splashing, pumps humming and children playing, floods your ears. You can't hear what the kids are saying, so you follow them up the flight of stairs. Their excited chattering and enthusiasm distracts you from the task ahead -climbing 7 storeys to the top of the waterslide.

At storey 4, you become short of breath, your quads are burning, and you're developing goosebumps from the wet chill. There's a different slide here you could do instead, maybe the kids want to try this one? Nope. So, you keep going.

You wonder, will this be worth it??

The eager looks in your kids' eyes, beaming in anticipation, is a hopeful yes.

If I'm honest, muscle cramps, rapid breathing, and the shivers make me feel old. I went down that waterslide not because I really wanted to, but because they wanted me to, and sometimes we concede to please others.

How many times isn't ministry similar?

We volunteer to teach Sunday school because it's expected (and needed), we offer to help out to take the load off of someone else. With lives that are full and busy we don't necessarily want to take on another "thing" but in order to fill the gap or meet needs, we reluctantly say yes.

What's happening in our hearts as we sigh and put up our hand?

Your serving is doing a good work in you

Climbing all those flights of stairs to the top of the waterslide meant I had to put my own hangups and hesitancies aside, denying those bits of self for the good of someone else.

Saying yes, even reluctantly, challenges the focus we have on ourselves in order to place it on the good of others.

Notice how we don't always feel like reading our bibles or praying, but we do them in obedience, reaching out in relationship, trusting the promises of God. Like the parable of the two sons (Matt 21) we may not initially want to go, but the response of an obedient heart produces a harvest of faithfulness when we're walking in submission to the Lord's leading.

The tasks you may view as an obligation are part of the good works God has prepared for you to do and we're to work at them with our whole hearts, taking the time to build relationship with those we're serving, to bless and encourage them intentionally.

Ministry isn't simple or easy on a good day, when everything seems to align. Our task is to be faithful, trusting that God is molding us through our obedience, forming us more into His likeness.

Your serving is doing a good work in others

Imagine what i would've missed out on by not going on the slide: My sister screaming louder than her daughter, the adrenaline rush of feeling like the giant tube was going to turn over, and the joyful smiles on the kids. These memories can't be traded, but are collected. Providing a storage of moments which relationship can draw from.

Consider those you serve, whether it's in the line at church potluck, the children in your class, the families in your small group. A servant's heart in those moments, responding to their need goes far to encourage and build up their faith. Your obedience does something in their heart too.

And we don't want to miss it.

What about if Peter and Andrew hadn't left their nets at Jesus' invitation to follow, if Ananias hadn't obeyed God's call to meet the blind persecutor Saul on Straight Street, if the disciples hadn't followed Jesus to go to Lazarus after his death. How will we see God's hand at work if we don't follow Him or go to the places He's already working in our local church communities.

We may not always see what He's doing, but He's there. We may not always see the fruit of our labors, but we're promised an inheritance. The ride of faithfulness isn't always easy, there's flights of stairs to climb, but joyous moments to be had.

We can't be part of every work God is doing. Saying yes can be a danger for those whose identity is tied up in pleasing others - where selfish ambition exists we will find disorder (Jam 3:16). But sometimes we find ourselves in places of ministry we were reluctant to begin, and I want to encourage you to see all that God is doing through your faithfulness as you stay in step with Him.

Toward that end I'll share this prayer by Richard Baxter [1]

May our obedience be practical, and not merely notional.

May our obedience be deep-rooted and fixed.

May our obedience be constant and continual.

May our obedience be universal, respecting all your laws.

May our obedience be resolute and powerful, victorious against temptation.

May we respect you as our supreme King, recognising no authority against you, nor any except that which is subordinate to you.

May our obedience be voluntary, pleasant, cheerful.

May it be our delight to obey you to our utmost power.

[1] Tim Chester, In His Presence: Praying with the Puritans (The Good Book Company, 2022), ch.27.



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