Why We Serve: Finding Your Passion for Service, Pt. 4

Image courtesty of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net

During the months of January and February, I’m teaching a workshop at my church about finding your service passion. After we spend a few sessions defining our service passion, we will be creating vision boards to help us focus our efforts on the right areas to support our service.  This blog will provide brief summaries of the previous classes in order to help people stay up to date if they can’t attend or have missed a session.

Previous Posts In the Series:

Last week, we looked at how and who we will serve. If you didn’t get the How or Who handouts, contact me here, and I’ll email them to you.

The Spirit’s Prompting

Why do you want to serve? We know we’re called to serve as Christians, but we need to know our own personal why. What draws us to a special area? If you’re like me, it’s easy to feel pulled to serve in more areas than I can handle. If this is you, either you say yes to everything or you hesitate in your decision-making and never choose. Neither choice is good. God wants us to serve.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. I Peter 4:10

Part of the goal of this series is to help you find a focus, so you’ll know when to say yes and when to say no. If you’ve followed the posts, so far, we’ve been exploring how the Spirit can lead you to this answer. As we looked at the words list for How and for Who last week, we needed to be open to circling any words that spoke to us–EVEN IF WE DIDN’T KNOW WHY. That’s important.

Now, we want to look at another list to discover WHY we serve.

The Why

Our reason for serving comes from our personal values. After identifying your values, we can look at how the How, Who, and Why combine into a mission statement for our service.

 

Below is a list of typical values. Don’t think too hard about it, just choose your top three to five. There are several that are similar, so you might want to read through the entire list before making your selections.

 

Your Service Mission Statement

Now that you have your values identified, you can begin to put together your mission statement.

 

Further Definition

Another tool that can help you identify how to proceed is to evaluate the following areas of your life.  Score each area from 1-10 with 1 indicating it’s non-existent in your current situation and 10 indicating you are extremely happy in that area. Then look at the areas with the lower scores. Can you use the How, Who, and Why to build up one of your weaker areas?

  • Social
  • Intellectual
  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Career
  • Relationship
  • Friends
  • Money
  • Security
  • Other

What Do You Do Now?

Still not sure about your focus? That’s ok. Take some time and pray about it.

Also, be on the look out for images that speak to you, whether in magazines, on the internet, or around you. Take a picture of the image or pull it from the magazine or internet and hang on to it. You don’t have to know why the image speaks to you, just that it does. This is the beginning of your Vision Board.

Have you developed a Mission Statement or narrowed down your How, Why, or Who? Please share in the Comments on this post. I can’t wait to see what everyone is discovering!

 

 

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How and Who: Finding Your Passion for Service Pt. 3

 

During the months of January and February, I’m teaching a workshop at my church about finding your service passion. After we spend a few sessions defining our service passion, we will be creating vision boards to help us focus our efforts on the right areas to support our service.  This blog will provide brief summaries of the previous classes in order to help people stay up to date if they can’t attend or have missed a session.

 

Previous Posts In the Series:

In the previous posts, we’ve looked at Jeremiah 29:4-11 and I Corinthians 12:1-11.

Gifts and the Spirit

This week, we added a familiar passage for many Christians:  Romans 12:1-8. Let’s look at the last part of this passage:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8

If you examine these three passages, you begin to see several correlations:

  • God has a will for us.
  • His will might not match what we expect.
  • We all receive gifts of the Spirit specific to us.
  • Not everyone has the same gift.
  • We should use the gifts God gives us.

As you seek to discover your focus for service, it’s important to remember these points.

Now, let’s look at another passage about the Spirit:

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:6-8‬

Jesus speaks these words to Nicodemus. What follows is a discussion of being born again, but I want us to look at something else in this passage:  Jesus uses the wind as a metaphor for the Spirit. We know it exists, we hear it, we feel it, we see its actions. What a great explanation of the Spirit!

Have you ever felt or heard a prompting from the Spirit? How did you know it came from the Spirit?

A thought comes to you, but it’s not a random thought. It may be unusual in its timing but not without purpose. Sometimes it’s a name of someone you haven’t thought of in some time. For me, that name might surface in my mind several times in a short period of time. Guess what? If I contact the person, they’re often going through something and needed to hear from me. Occasionally, I’m going through something and needed to talk to them. Either way, it’s not a coincidence. Stories like this abound.

My point? We have to listen for the promptings of the Spirit if we’re going to use our gifts to God’s service.

How and Who To Serve

Which leads us to the How and Who of developing your service focus. How will you serve? Who or what cause will you serve?

I gave the participants two lists–one for the How and one for the Who.

The How list contains a long list of action verbs. I encouraged them to circle the words that spoke to them or jumped out as they read through the list. Each person, through an activity, narrowed the list down to their top three.  The Who handout listed several groups or causes. Each person read through this list circling any group or cause that interested them.

Next week, we’ll do the Why list.

From these three areas, you can begin to build your service mission statement.

If you missed last week or are only following these posts online, feel free to contact me, and I’ll send you the lists and the directions to follow while making your selections.

Meanwhile, be in prayer over how God wants to use you.

What Are Your Gifts? Passion For Service Part 2

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. © Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

During the months of January and February, I’m teaching a workshop at my church about finding your service passion. After we spend a few sessions defining our service passion, we will be creating vision boards to help us focus our efforts on the right areas to support our service.  This blog will provide brief summaries of the previous classes in order to help people stay up to date if they can’t attend or have missed a session.

Last week’s post:  Finding Your Passion for Service

Let’s look at a passage often used when exploring Christian gifts, I Corinthians 12:1-11:

1Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

There is one Spirit but many gifts.

We have a tendency to look at what someone else is doing and evaluate our own service by their standard. That’s not fair to us or the other person. We have one Spirit who provides different gifts to different people. If we try to serve in an area where we aren’t gifted, we might not reap the rewards of our service and neither will the people we’re trying to serve.

Many years ago, I learned that my gift is not teaching the children’s Bible classes. How? By agreeing to teach a class for the summer. Yes, I’m a teacher and love teaching…adults or young adults. I don’t have the talents necessary to keep a group of kids focused on a lesson in a fun way. This doesn’t mean I’m not good with kids. I’m good with kids on a small level. I just don’t fit when it comes to a long-term commitment to teaching them. I know this, and even though the pleas for Sunday School teachers move my Christian heart, I know it’s not where I’m meant to serve. It’s not my gift.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have gifts we haven’t used. Someone else might see them in you before you do. In the sixth grade, a friend of mine told me I was a leader. I stared at her like she had three eyes and horns. Me? A leader? I wasn’t even popular. Yet, in my adult life, I’ve discovered the truth to her statement. I love to lead!

The Bible is filled with people who didn’t believe they could do what God asked them to do. Moses didn’t believe he could speak for the Israelites. Sarah did not believe she’d have the child God promised Abraham. Jonah did not believe he could deliver God’s message to Ninevah. Yet, God knew what they could do and refused to let them turn away from their destinies.

How do you discover your gifts?

Awareness of your gifts comes from answering some tough questions. I asked the participants on Wednesday night to take ten minutes and write their answers to the following questions. I suggest you do it, too, especially if you’re planning to attend this class. Even if you’re not, these questions can lead you down the path of discovering potential areas of service.

  1. What are you good at? (Don’t stick to “God” topics here. All interests and hobbies are useful.)
  2. What do people who know you well say you’re good at?
  3. What skills/areas/topics do you have a great deal of knowledge or experience in?
  4. What would you do with any additional time if you found a way to give it to yourself?  (Think outside the box.  Do not limit yourself here.)
  5. What are the top three obstacles preventing you from focusing on any of the items you’ve listed in questions 1-4?
  6. What are the top three things you think you must do in order to focus on them?

Don’t worry if you find these questions difficult to answer. They often are.

After everyone wrote their answers, we split up into groups of two or three to discuss what they learned, realized, or felt as they considered these questions.

A great way to dig deeper is to ask a spouse, child, best friend, or co-worker how they would answer these questions about you. I recommend asking at least two people, especially if one is your spouse (spouses tend to use rose-colored glasses or a magnifying glass).

As you explore these questions, look for areas of service you haven’t considered yet. It might be at work, or home, or with a neighbor, or as part of a club.

I pray these questions help you begin to open your eyes to the potential you have for service.