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Serving as God made me

Christ’s love compels us to serve in his kingdom, but how can we serve?

Andrew Chisel

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

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Serving as God made me

God made you as an individual in a certain way to play a role in his body of believers.

David G. Scharf

Maybe you’ve heard this one. What does a professional football game have in common with many churches? At a football game, there are 22 men on the field in desperate need of rest and thousands on the sidelines in desperate need of exercise. In the church, it often seems like there is a small group who need a break doing most of the work and a seemingly much larger number sitting on the sidelines.

There is a grain of truth in the illustration. However, I don’t love it. It doesn’t take into account that God has blessed us all with vocations or “callings.” We all have them. Does a mother of six serve her Savior any less by tucking her kids into bed with a bedtime devotion and prayer rather than by participating in a church meeting? By no means! Both are ways to serve Jesus. The balance between “life service” and “church service” will be different depending on your vocations.

But the question still remains when it comes to service in the church:

Who’s going to do it?

Perhaps we think, “Well, that’s why we call our pastors and teachers!” There is a grain of truth in that sentiment. Pastors and teachers are so wonderfully equipped for service by the fantastic education they receive in the Word of God through our synodical schools. However, what have they been equipped to do?

Listen to how the apostle Paul expresses it: “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Pastors and teachers have been equipped to equip others for works of service. They equip by training us with the Word of God. They unite us around the truth of God’s Word and the exciting mission God gives us. They encourage us to carry out works of service both in the church and in our everyday lives.

What does that look like? A pastor preaches and teaches, and his members carry that message into their daily lives. A pastor builds the body of Christ by equipping and training his members to live as Christian husbands, wives, parents, citizens, and employees. He also encourages them to witness to others. Each member has a role to play in their families, their communities, and their church.

Who me?

The apostle Paul calls us the “body of Christ.” He goes on to explain: “From [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16, emphasis added). What a remarkable picture! When God worked faith in your heart, he built you into his body. He gave you gifts and a role to play in his body.

While every part of the body has a different role, every role is important! We tend to downplay our gifts and abilities. Maybe we like to think that we’re the appendix in the body of Christ and serve no purpose, but God makes every part of the body important. Even the pinky toenail serves a valuable purpose. Can you imagine the pain if you didn’t have that right now? Ouch!

The blessing of being part of the body of Christ doesn’t stop there. You have gifts and abilities unique to you. There is no one else in this world with the same gift set as you. There is no one who has exactly the same personality as you. Even better, of the billions of people who have existed on this earth, there has never been anyone with exactly the same gift and personality match as you. Each one of us can say with the psalmist, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; . . . I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13,14). Every hand-knit sweater is unique. God does not mass produce us. He knits us individually.

And here’s the mind-blowing part: God knit you together in that unique way for a purpose. Even better, he knit you and made you for his purpose. God made you as an individual in a certain way to play a role in his body of believers. Even better, he made you to play your role—the one he created just for you in his body.

So with your unique personality and gift blend, what does service in the body of Christ look like for you? We have many options with our time. Next month we’re going to explore how our unique gift sets and personalities mesh together for service.

But for now, let’s answer one more incredibly important question:

Why me?

Why will we want to look for all the ways that we can serve Jesus both in our everyday lives as well as in the church? Let’s listen to the apostle Paul again: “Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15).

Can you see the “why”? We’re compelled, but not in a forced way. We’re compelled in the sense that it’s the only thing we feel like doing. By what are we compelled? Christ’s love. I will respond in proportion to the love and sacrifice someone shows to me. If you buy me a cup of coffee, I will shake your hand. If you pay off the mortgage on my house, I will kiss your feet! (Well, that may be an exaggeration.) But if you suffer hell for me? Wow! There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you. And that’s what Jesus did—suffered hell for us. That’s Christ’s love. Isn’t it compelling? I want to live for him not because I have to, but because I’ve never experienced any love greater than his!

And you have all you need to live for him. God equips you by his Word through the called workers he has given. God has knit you together in the perfect way for his service and made you part of his body. God compels you to use those gifts, not by force, but by his infinite love. Through all of that God turns our questions of “Who’s going to do it?” or “Who me?” or “Why me?” into a statement: “Here am I. Send me!”

David Scharf is a professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota.

This is part one in a two-part series on serving Christ and his church.

 

SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

SUBSCRIBE TO FORWARD IN CHRIST

Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

 

Author: David G. Scharf
Volume 103, Number 6
Issue: June 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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