By Mary Southerland, Crosswalk.com
God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing (Ephesians 2:10, NCV).
I recently decided it was time to clean house… I mean really clean house. I gave my husband fair warning and gathered my supplies. I bought a huge box of garbage bags along with just about every kind of cleaning product imaginable. I was serious!
I made my plan. I attacked one room a day and thoroughly cleaned every square inch of that room. I went through every drawer, cabinet, and closet in our home--cleaning and organizing. If it had not been used in the last year, it was either tossed or given away. I put on my favorite praise music and scrubbed and cleaned like a madwoman.
Of course, I had a list. With each passing day, the list grew shorter while my sense of accomplishment and satisfaction increased. At the end of each day, I wearily but happily marked something off of that list.
But when I got to the kitchen and began to work on the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink, a foul odor slapped me in the face and stopped me in my tracks. I could not imagine what was causing such a nasty smell.
And then I spotted it.
A few weeks earlier, I had cleaned the oven with an old sponge. I had evidently forgotten to squeeze out the excess water, tossed the slightly damp sponge in the back of the cabinet, and forgotten about it. The sponge was now slimy and nasty and stank to high heaven.
When we come to Christ, He fills our lives with blessings and then wants us to share those blessings with others. When life puts the squeeze on us, what comes out should be a sweet-smelling aroma--not a stagnant and rancid odor.
We Want to Be Like Moving Water
The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are made of the same water that flows down, clear and cold from the heights of Hermon and the roots of the cedars of Lebanon. The Sea of Galilee is a place of great beauty because it has an outlet.
It gathers in its riches and then pours them out again to fertilize the Jordan plain. However, the Dead Sea, with the same water creates horror. The Dead Sea has no outlet.
When we come to God, one of our first natural responses is to serve Him--to give away what we have been given. In fact, our service to God should be spontaneous, enthusiastic, and consistent.
If there is no desire to serve, or if we find it hard to serve, then there is something wrong in our relationship with God.
We were created to serve God. In fact, our service to God is part of our worship of God. Worship and service cannot be separated. When we worship God, we will naturally serve Him, and when we serve God, we are worshipping Him.
There are many Christians who are doing nothing, but there are no Christians who have nothing to do.
How Worshipping God Looks Like Serving Others
When wei think of a servant, we may think of someone who reports to work for a specific amount of time and is paid a specific wage. That is an employee--not a servant. The word “serve” comes from the Greek word “latreuo” and is often translated as “worship.” It is not the picture of a slave serving a master. It is the picture of a love relationship that compels action.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1)
We are living sacrifices. We worship God by pleasing Him in the daily routines of life. Everything we do is an offering of praise to Him. We worship God when we serve others.
- Cleaning house
- Cooking meals
- Making beds
- Taking care of children
- Helping a neighbor
- Buying groceries
- Teaching a Bible study
- Listening to a hurting friend
Service begins in the heart and then works its way out in daily life as an act of praise and gratitude. No doubt about it.
Every day is a worship service to God--even on the job.
Your Job Can Always Be Your Mission Field
Have you ever thought of your job as a mission field, as a place of service to God?
Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus--the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love (Acts 20:24, LB).
God uses our work as one of His tools to mold us into who He wants us to be. When we learn to trust God with our work, we can then view our job as an opportunity to provide the tools we need to accomplish our life mission.
Paul worked as a tentmaker, a church planter, and an author. His purpose and mission never changed, but his work certainly did.
Many of us do not need a different job. We simply need a different attitude and a new point of view about the job we have. Begin by envisioning Jesus standing in the midst of your workplace as your real boss. Then look for the life lessons God provides through your work.
God uses my work to teach me responsibility. Meeting deadlines, completing assigned tasks with excellence, showing respect for co-workers (even the abrasive ones) and working without supervision are all valuable life lessons learned on the job.
God uses my work to teach me about relationships. Cooperation, fairness, flexibility, humility and patience are relationship skills of a successful worker. Our workplace is not only one of our God-ordained mission fields; it is a classroom for learning to love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable and, in short, be “God with skin on.” You may very well be the only sermon your co-workers ever hear.
God uses my work to teach me how to serve. The way we serve God is by serving others. God wants us to grow spiritually at work by becoming a servant to those with whom we work. It is easy to serve those who sit beside us on a pew each Sunday, but a real servant serves on the job.
Attitudes never sit still. They constantly move and change. An attitude is a pattern of thinking, a filter through which we view life. We can choose to be honest about our attitude at work and we can choose to change our attitude about work, but most importantly, we can choose to pray for God’s attitude about work.
Accept God's Guidance in What Type of Work You Do
Many people never experience success in their work because they are in the wrong work to begin with. Not me. As a high school student, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. My mother was a nurse and I wanted to be just like her, so I became a student volunteer at the hospital where my mother worked.
When I told her the good news, she thought for a moment and then simply said, "That's great, honey. You'll make a wonderful nurse." My mother was a wise woman who definitely had my number.
On my first day, I eagerly donned the required red and white striped uniform and reported for duty. The head nurse welcomed me and explained that I would be checking each patient to make sure they had water to drink, magazines to read, and a listening ear. That sounded simple enough.
"Oh, and one more thing," she continued. In retrospect, I should have instantly recognized the danger in those words and run for the nearest exit. In my ignorance, I stayed. "Since we are short-handed, I may ask you to do just a few things to help the other nurses on duty," she said. "No problem" I assured her.
At that precise moment, a scream pierced the air! The head nurse calmly looked at me, smiled and said, "Could you check on that, please?" Surely, I had misunderstood her. "Now!" she continued. Taking a deep breath, I headed in the direction of the scream, praying that that it was nothing more than the celebratory cry of someone who had just won a million dollars.
As I neared the room in question, a bedpan flew through the doorway in front of me, landing at my feet. Furthermore, the bedpan was not empty. I decided right then and there that nursing was not for me, turned in my candy cane apron, and raced for the nearest exit.
Mama was waiting for me as I stepped off the elevator. She smiled, handed me the cars keys, and simply said "See you at home." Fortunately, I had a wise and wonderful mother who knew me well. From that day on she encouraged me to be the teacher God created me to be.
God has a unique plan for each one of us. Our greatest opportunity for success is to live that plan. I believe God tucks into our very soul a holy discontentment with anything but His life "recipe.”
We must learn to trust Him for that plan and settle for nothing less than the work He has for us to complete. When we do, we will understand the true meaning of service--holy experience--an act of worship.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ipopba
Mary Southerland is also the Co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotion ministry for women. Mary’s books include, Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, Fit for Life, and 10-Day Trust Adventure, You Make Me So Angry, How to Study the Bible, Fit for Life, Joy for the Journey, and Life Is So Daily. Mary relishes her ministry as a wife, a mother to their two children, Jered and Danna, and Mimi to her six grandchildren – Jaydan, Lelia, Justus, Hudson, Mo, and Nori.