Aside from watching others serve around us, I would venture that many of you can think of several experiences in your life that involved you serving for the good and advancement of others. This probably came at some expense to yourself, but you probably found it pretty rewarding and fulfilling. For all of the work, energy, time, and effort put into serving, there is an intended blessing of joy and fulfillment that we receive when it takes place. God designed it to be that way. He has given us this gift to tap into and experience when we put others first and reach out to help them. It is such a joy and blessing for me to watch many of you serve in various ways at Oak Hill in so many different capacities. Seeing how you are using God’s gifts in your life to serve others and to serve His Church brings a big smile to my face.
This might seem obvious, but one of the secrets to serving is that anyone can do it. There are no pre-requisites or ability level or age requirements. Every person can fully invest themselves in a life of serving one another in love and reaping the benefits of that service. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it this way: “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
While we would tend to agree with these points, these statements are made because the reality is that we can struggle with serving. An obvious reason for this would be that we are naturally selfish people who are conditioned to first look out for ourselves and to make sure that we have our own ducks in a row before looking out for another’s well-being. But one of the traps that befall us when it comes to serving others is fear. Fear that we don’t measure up, fear that we don’t have the skills or abilities to do a good job, fear and insecurity that we will mess up, fear that we are inadequate, fear of what others might think, fear that we are ill-equipped. We would just as rather watch another serve than take part in service ourselves. This is a fear that can make us timid and hesitant, unsteady and unsure.
But God’s gifts to us go further than we can even imagine. He does not leave us to falter in our inadequacies and hesitancy. He still calls and invites us to serve Him and one of the ways that we do that is by serving others. God promises to equip us, go with us, help us, and encourage us as we give to those around us out of who we are and what we have. The Apostle Paul wrote two letters to a very timid, hesitant, and fearful pastor named Timothy and in the first chapter of his second letter to Timothy, Paul gives him this reminder and this reality: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” This Spirit is the one who fills in the gaps, who give us boldness and confidence, who provides us with the tools we need to give out of a heart of love to share a Greater Love with those around us. Serving is a true joy! It is life-giving. It is infectious. It is the heart of our Savior.