Serving as God made me
Christ’s love compels us to serve in his kingdom, but how can we serve?
So often we have been asked to fill an open spot on a committee or board or serve in some other way. We feel pressured to say, “Okay, put me down. I’ll do it.” But we know we are not going to like doing what we volunteered to do. We felt obligated to accept. When it’s all over, we might think that we just couldn’t do the task. We feel like a failure.
No one likes to fail. So our reaction is to avoid committing ourselves to serve again. But we remember Christ’s love compels us to serve. Then we ask: Is there another way to serve? a better way? another opportunity?
How do we overcome the negative experiences of serving? Three things can help you find the best place to serve. I call them the “trifecta of life in the body of Christ.” We need to do everything for the right reason, but we also need to do the right thing in the right way. That right reason is because Christ has purchased and won us from sin, death, and the power of the devil so that we might serve him. That’s the reason. But it helps if we also discover how to do the right things in the right way.
Finding the right things
The second part of the trifecta is finding the right things to do. We are not all the same. Jesus has redeemed us all equally, but we are not equally gifted. Paul reminds us, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them” and “to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4,7).
The goal of our service is “the common good” of Christ’s kingdom. But we are all different, and we don’t use the same gifts for the common good. The church is like a human body with many different parts, all serving the welfare of the body. God has given each Christian different gifts.
Paul went on to describe some of the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. Some have wisdom, others have knowledge, others have the ability to distinguish between what’s right and wrong, and still others have faith (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). In Romans chapter 12 his list is a bit more like what we need in the church today: serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, and leading (v. 6-8).
So what’s right for you? You might find that there are multiple places where your hobbies and interests help identify what your gifts are. You might talk with a loved one to get a more objective analysis of your skills and interests. There are spiritual gift inventory analyses online that also can help identify your strengths.
You are looking for the right things to do based on your gifts. All gifts are needed. Consider your talents prayerfully so you can understand the gifts God has given you to use in his kingdom. Doing the right thing will be important to you and to the church. Each of us has at least one gift to use for the good of the body of Christ. It might be simply a humble and quiet gift of encouraging others or serving your family and other Christians. As Paul reminds us, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:6).
Finding the right way
The last part of the process is to find the right way to do the right things for the right motive. God has created each of us personally and uniquely. Not only do we have different gifts, but we also have different personalities. Psalm 139 reminds us of the care God has taken to make us: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (v. 13,14). Except for sin, God made us the people we are. Our unique personality is his doing too.
In the world of human behavioral science, the terms “personality traits” and “temperaments,” are synonymous and have been used for more than 2,400 years. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, first gave personality traits Greek names: Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy.
A model used today is the DISC behavior model. You can find the DISC assessment inventory many places online, and it usually only takes a few minutes to work through the questions. The assessment tool helps people to understand themselves better so they can adapt their behaviors to working with other people. In other words, it may help members of the body of Christ to work with each other for the common good. You can consider the unique way God shaped you. That understanding will help you assess how to use the gifts he has given you in the right way for you.
The four letters of DISC stand for four personality profiles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. The questions in the assessment help identify the general characteristics and the natural motivation of each trait.
It’s interesting to think of how biblical characters fit these traits. A dominant person places emphasis on accomplishing results, can be blunt, gets straight to the point, and has confidence. That person is usually motivated by challenges and time. The apostle Peter might fit here. A person who has the bent to influence and persuade others is open, optimistic, and enthusiastic. Paul might fit here. The third type is steady, sincere and dependable. This person’s supportive attitude, calm approach, and humility might be like Silas, Paul’s companion on his second and third missionary journey. Finally the cautious and conscientious person is interested in wanting the details and makes decisions on objective reasons. Thomas might be like this person. He wanted to see and touch Jesus before he believed Jesus rose from the dead.
So often we fail in our service to our Savior when we try to use our gifts in exactly the same way others use their gifts. Your gifts need to be expressed through your God-given personality—using the right gift in the right way for you. Even if you have the same gift as someone else, you might use it in a slightly different way. A “D” personality might have the gift of sharing the gospel like Peter, bold and direct. Another person with an “S” personality might use the gift of sharing the gospel like Silas, using a calm one-on-one approach and supporting others who also have the gift of sharing Jesus.
God equips us with everything we need through his Word, giving us spiritual gifts and creating our personalities that will use those gifts in our own way. Then he compels us with his love to do our part in the body of Christ. It all fits together: the right reason—Christ, the right thing—God’s special gifts, and the right way—our unique personalities.
God has a place for you to use your gifts in his body.
Andrew Chisel is a member at Immanuel, Greenville, Wisconsin
This is the final article in a two-part series on serving Christ and his church.
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Author: Andrew Chisel
Volume 103, Number 7
Issue: July 2016
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