The Gift of Serving by Bishop Glen A. Colley

 

WHAT IS THE GIFT OF SERVING?

 

Every believer was recreated to serve (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus said the greatest among you is the one who serves (Matt 23:11) and He demonstrated this as He chose the towel over the title by washing the disciples feet (John 13:5). According to Galatians 5:13, our love for Christ should be demonstrated by serving one another. This is an admonition to all believers. However, there are members in the body of Christ who have been empowered by the Holy Spirit with the gift of serving. This gift is identified in Romans 12:6-7, which states; “God in his kindness gave each of us different gifts.…. If your gift is serving, then devote yourself to serving.” (Romans 12:6–7a,).

 

You might ask, what is the gift of serving? The Greek word for this gift is “diakonia” from which we derive the English word deacon. The basic meaning of “diakonia” is “to wait tables,” but it is most often translated in the Bible as “ministry.”  The gift of serving is a supernatural gift; given by the Holy Spirit. It refers to any act of service performed with genuine love for the edification of the church. Those who have the gift of serving should recognize that there are no menial tasks in the body of Christ. All our work for God is significant to Him, whether it is preaching a sermon or stacking chairs.

 

HOW CAN YOU RECOGNIZE IF YOU HAVE THE GIFT OF SERVING?

 

Those who have the gift of serving usually manifest the following characteristics:

  1. They readily recognize practical needs and are quick to meet them.
  2. They derive great joy and fulfillment from serving others, especially, when it releases others to get more involved in their ministry (Romans 16:1-2).
  3. They are usually more interested in meeting the needs of others than in meeting their own needs.
  4. They are usually compassionate and empathize with the needs of others.
  5. They would rather serve than lead others or spearhead projects.

 

The potential weaknesses of those who are gifted to serve include the following:

  1. They may become overly busy and preoccupied with much serving and neglect their own needs and time spent sitting at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:40).
  2. They may become critical of others who sit before they serve, or those who do not readily detect and meet obvious needs (Luke 10:40).
  3. They may find it hard to accept being served by others.
  4. They can become easily hurt when unappreciated.
  5. They may have real difficulty in saying “no” when called upon to serve.

 

WHY DO WE NEED THE GIFT OF SERVING TODAY?

 

The primary purpose for the gift of serving, is to aid in the spreading of the gospel. When this gift is in its fullest manifestation, the whole church is energized and others are released to maximize the use of their ministry gifts.  The result is the continued edification of the church which leads to growth and expansion beyond its walls. In Acts 6:1-7, when this ministry gift was in manifestation through the deacons, it enabled the apostles to give more time to the word and prayer. As a result, the Word of God spread, the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

 

The church of God, is a Spirit-filled church fulfilling the great commission in the power of Pentecost. In order to finish the great commission, we need Spirit-filled believers who demonstrate love for God and love for neighbor by meeting practical needs through acts of service. This cannot be done through mere human ability.

 

In his book, “Encountering the Holy Spirit,” Dr. French Arrington says, “When the model of the Church is institutional rather than charismatic, there is a strong temptation to rely on ourselves, replacing reliance on the Spirit with our native abilities, education and personal skills. Without questioning, all of these have their place in the life and ministry of the Church. None of them however, are adequate replacements for gifts of the Spirit.”

 

The spirit-filled believer who is gifted to serve can be a catalyst that propels the church forward thereby advancing the Kingdom of God as they serve others through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

 

HOW SHOULD THE GIFT OF SERVING FUNCTION IN THE LOCAL CHURCH?

 

To fully equip the saints to do the work of ministry, leadership in the church should be very intentional about discovering, developing and deploying believers in the area of their gifting. Discovering and functioning in our spiritual gifting brings us into divine alignment with our purpose as believers.

 

Those who have the gift of serving need to identify ministry areas that they are passionate about. A person who has the gift of serving and a passion to work with children, will serve best in children’s ministry. On the other hand, someone with the gift of serving who is very outgoing and hospitable might best serve as a greeter or an usher. A person who has the gift of serving and a passion to see people come to Christ might best serve on the evangelism team.

 

EXAMPLES OF THE GIFT OF SERVING IN OPERATION

 

The gift of serving encompasses various kinds of spiritual service such as ministry to the poor, preparing of meals, assisting the disabled, preparing for church events, compiling weekly church bulletins and doing cleaning and maintenance in the local church.

 

A lady in our church needed a washing machine and dryer. As the members networked, there was another member, who had a new washing machine and dryer he didn’t need. Men in our church who had the gift of serving, quickly transported the washer and dryer to her home and installed them. The following Sunday, she came to the house of the Lord rejoicing with inexpressible joy, because those who used their gift of serving were moved to meet her need. This gave her an opportunity to experience God’s provision and her faith was strengthened.

 

The gift of serving can also operate beyond the walls of the local church by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting those in hospitals, nursing homes and prisons. These types of ministries can be characterized as serving, according to Matthew 25:34-40.

 

The gift of serving can become a great tool for evangelism, as those with this gift demonstrate the love of God to others in their community by performing acts of service. These acts of service could range from delivering meals to those who are convalescent to mowing the neighbor’s lawn. Performing these acts of service, is a great way to minister to the unchurched and win them to Christ. Many who might not have attended church can begin to attend and commit themselves to Jesus by making Him Lord of their lives.

 

In Acts 10:38, the Bible says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power who went about doing good…. I believe as Christians, we should go about doing good. The world calls it “random acts of kindness”, but this is no substitute for the supernatural gift of serving. I believe God is pleased when we demonstrate His love to people through acts of service.

 

I am deeply moved by 1 Corinthians 16:15, where Apostle Paul mentioned the household of Stephanas who “addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” These were the first converts in Achaia and they devoted themselves to serving the saints; this was a work of the Holy Spirit. Those who have this gift should devote themselves to acts of practical service for the spiritual edification of the body of Christ. We must also understand, that the gift of serving is a supernatural gift.  Those who are endowed with this gift must serve with character and practical wisdom. In Acts 6:1-7 we see that those who were chosen to serve, were chosen based on the following qualifications: 1) of good reputation, 2) full of the Holy Spirit, 3) full of wisdom, and 4) full of faith. If you are blessed with the gift of serving do not be weary in well doing. Your gift is vital to the church, because it allows the church to remain charismatic instead of becoming institutional. Your faithfulness over what you have been given will make room for you and is the doorway to receiving greater gifts from the Father.

 

 

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