Recently someone asked me question about service and how to know where God would want a person to serve. So many people struggle to know God’s will, look at their circumstances, and are completely confused about what to do. I have personally struggled with this after seminary when God foiled all my great ideas and plans and instead placed me in the complex, amazing, and humbled life I now live as a father to two amazing kids.
Here’s the question:
In the last few years, I have found a wonderful church. I hear the gospel every Sunday. I have a pastor who is a real biblical scholar. I love my church. But I'm having a hard time finding a place to serve. Every time I attempt to serve, something happens to inhibit it. I don't believe anyone, or group, is trying to inhibit my service. But it appears that God has benched me for some reason. Is it possible that God could be saying ‘hey, just sit there and warm that bench?’
Yes, it’s possible that God is saying, “hey, just sit there and warm that bench.” But it also could be all sorts of other things. You could be pursuing the wrong form of service for that church’s needs or your giftings. It could be that you need to continue to strive and find a place to serve. It could be other things. Trying to figure out what God is up to in the world apart from what he says in Scripture is like trying to discover limits of the universe with a set of binoculars.
It’s good to be at a church and learn to receive. But the Christian life isn’t lived from the bench or the stands. We all participate in the game even if we have minor roles. These minor roles can look like discipling or being discipled, befriending, being hospitable, and a whole host of other things that sometimes go unnoticed. Service can be a loaded word that to some can mean “teaching, leading worship, being in charge of some ministry, generally restricted to the church as an institution or organization” But if we use “service” in a broader sense of service of people. Then I’m sure God has a place for you and if you look around you may find that you are already participating in some small way that goes unnoticed.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul gives us a picture of the church in which all are valued members with some contribution to make to the greater whole. The questions that you need to ask are, “where do I fit?” “How is God already using me?” “What do I enjoy doing or really value?” “How can serve these people that God has placed in my life?” Your answers to these questions may change at different times in life and that is okay. But for now, it’s good to receive and God has a place for you to serve. So keep seeking his will and trust that he has given you as a gift to your church to love and serve them even as you have been loved and served.