Recently during a connection group meeting, one of my church friends hit me with such an incredibly uplifting and freeing truth that it staggered everything I once believed about serving.
Sometimes it is the most basic concepts that create the most impactful change. Here's what happened...
I serve in different areas in our church, and in doing so, I invest a lot of my time performing many different duties. I do this because I love my church family. I also do it because I like to feel like a contributor, and finally, I serve because it makes me happy.
But there are some areas where I serve that make me happier than others. And it is here where my paradigm shift occurred.
I always felt that when I was serving in the area I LOVED that it really wasn't serving because it didn't feel like a sacrifice. For some reason I was under the impression that to truly serve the kingdom there had to be some pain involved--an overcoming my reluctance and a grit-and-bear-it moment. If that feeling didn't happen, then there was no real sacrifice, and I wasn't trying hard enough.
It was the same with generosity. For me giving money is easy. There's no pain involved. Lee, on the other hand, cringes when we hand in the checks. To Lee it feels like I'm handing away our security--that at any moment we could face financial crisis and we won't be able to pay our way out because I've gone and given all our money away. But he does it anyway. He gives even when it hurts. Lee feels the sacrifice.
But when it comes to investing in people, Lee is MUCH more generous than I am. He really connects. He listens. He cares. He prays. He texts. He calls. I don't. And when I do, it takes a great effort. I am definitely not as generous with giving of myself as I am with my money. I'd rather pay you than invest in you. (Man that sounds awful!)
This is when the super incredible words of holy Spirit wisdom come in. My friend explained that God gave us different strengths so that the church could have a balance. If we were all generous in the same ways there would be a deficiency or neglect in other critical areas. Lee is a generous investor in people because God knew there was a need for people to be connected to a strong and gentle man who listens and guides without judgment or ridicule. And God made me generous with my money because He knows that there are true financial needs that must be addressed, and together Lee and I are powerful in that respect.
Through the years, Lee has become so much more trusting that God will take care of us financially. He has come to learn that all of our money is God's money, and that when we honor the Lord with our finances that He is always faithful and provides for us in ways we could never have imagined.
Likewise, by following and learning from Lee's example, along with my other friends who are amazing investors in people, I have become more open with myself--allowing myself to share my story with others and to try to help by walking along side them in their struggles.
So back to serving... The church has so many needs, and because of these needs there are so many areas to serve. It doesn't have to be painful. God gave me certain strengths so that I can fulfill a need in the church to fullest and with the most joy. Because the joy of the Lord IS my strength! SEE WHAT I DID THERE!?!? I find Joy in serving within the Strengths that the Lord has given me.
Find what gives you the most joy! Then serve, serve, serve. I'm telling you, I can never get enough, when I'm serving in my joyful place :D