1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
This past week, while on a trip out of state, I was chatting with a guy who had struggled connecting with others. Sure, he had a nice little family, his wife and a few kids, but making friends was difficult. It had always been difficult, until something changed, and now he has some amazing and close companions and he even feels better about life! What this guy did was start serving at his church and in his community and those opportunities opened up connections with others who enjoyed helping as he did. He actually said serving has made a huge impact on his life.
Now this guy’s story is not an isolated incident. I know another person who started serving in the media department in their school and in their church. They learned and fell in love with using a camera and editing as they volunteered. They decided to go to school and now they are in a large company using their video and editing skills all over the world. Another person was struggling with what they called mild depression and could not get out of the cycle where they were constantly down on themselves. They were challenged to serve/volunteer at their local Boys and Girls Club and life changed. They experienced joy and instead of brooding over themselves began to make sacrifices, caring about others.
Now serving is not the only answer to all of life’s issues, but it is a good thing. Actually, God asks us to serve.
Romans 12:11 Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord
To be ‘not lagging behind’ is to be fervent. The word picture is to be boiling over with enthusiasm and excitement. Wow, that is an amazing attitude to choose. The word ‘serving’ in this verse means to give up control to, to yield to self and place ourselves in a climate where we do what someone else wants. Wow, again, could that be said of us?
All through the Bible, God challenges us to serve.
Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
Galatians 5:13-14 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Mark 9:35 And He sat down and called the twelve. And He said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Jesus was the prime example of one who serves.
Matthew 20:28 even as the Son of Man (Jesus) came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
There are many benefits to serving. If you do a quick study, you will find all kinds of benefits. Let me quickly touch on five.
Serving brings on joy. The online article, 7 Scientific Benefits of Helping Others, speaks of a study done where sociologists tracked 2000 people over five years, where they described themselves as “very happy” having volunteered at least 5.8 hours per month. It feels good to help others.
According to Stephen G. Post, professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University in New York and author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping, when we ‘do good’ to others it releases chemicals in our brain like dopamine and serotonin, and we feel happy. One caution that is brought up in another online article Volunteering – 7 Big Reasons Why Serving Others Serves Us, is that if we don’t actually like what we are doing, it does no good. If we serve out of resentment or obligation we do not reap the blessing of joy.
Serving reduces stress and helps depression. In another on line article, Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits:
How Giving to Others Makes You Healthier and Happier says that the social contact with others in serving creates a solid support system which helps diminish stress and protects against some depression.
Serving improves health. According to Thomas H. Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University, “Civic Engagement and volunteering is the new hybrid health club for the 21st century that’s free to join.” This was from Live Longer by Lending a Helping Hand.
Serving increases belonging and connection. Like the story above, serving together is a great way to meet people. I met my wife serving with her in the youth ministry at our church. You may find your new best friend while serving.
Serving teaches new skills. As we roll up our sleeves and get about tasks and duties of our service, we have the opportunity to take risks and for the sake of the cause of our volunteering, we seek to learn. I know I have learned how to paint serving with the Compton Initiative and countless other skills I would have never attempted nor taken the time to learn if I had not served.
So what about you? Maybe this year we can get our serve on and jump in and volunteer. There are all kinds of ways from our churches, to Boys and Girls Clubs, to schools, to the police department, to homeless shelters. The opportunities are out there. It will take some effort to find them and jump in, but it will be well worth it. I love the quote from the famous explorer, doctor, missionary, Albert Schweitzer: “The only really happy people are those who have learned how to serve.” It’s a new year. Let’s serve!
Church is a great place to learn of service opportunities. If you don’t already have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net.