What Does Effective Service Look Like?

Blog assignment # 1: effective service and what it looks like. At first glance I thought, piece of cake. Effective service means putting others first, not expecting to receive anything in return, being humble, and doing it all for God’s glory. But as I thought about what effective service actually looked like, I realized I needed to go deeper. Often what I think of as service is the individual acts I do throughout a given day. Make coffee for roommates, check. Unload dishwasher even though it isn’t my week, check. Go to youth group, check. Walk granny across the street, check. So on and so on. But is effective service truly the acts I perform?

This question, left me with a day long word study of “service.”  The word service is commonly used as a verb in the Old Testament and is often synonymous with worship. So if our acts of service are one way to worship God, how does service then indeed fulfill the purpose of worshiping God and not just become an item on the to do list?

One thing helpful in answering this question is seeing that God doesn’t need our acts of service nor does he view them the way we often do. I pat myself on the back when I do something kind or loving for someone, but God sees my acts of good deeds as filthy rags.  My acts of service, when separated from a love for my Savior, are dirty rags.  Yet at the same time God tells us that he has prepared good works in advance for us to do. So if he doesn’t want our acts of service yet calls us to serve, where does that leave us?

It leaves us having to come to the understanding that God doesn’t need us to accomplish His purposes yet he lovingly chooses to include us in his plan of redemption for all mankind.These good works that he has prepared in advance are then ways to worship Him, trusting Him to accomplish the necessary purpose, and then using us flawed humans in the process.  We are simply vessels that God chooses to use, though we have no significant value in and of ourselves. Similarly, our service has no value in and of itself. Service is the outpouring of our love for God, not a task to be accomplished. Service projects are then simply an opportunity to love and serve people as Christ first did for us.

This is where my original thoughts on service take their proper place. Effective service can then manifest itself as: putting others first, not expecting to receive anything in return, being humble, and doing it all for God’s glory. When we first understand why we are to serve, we can then rightfully look at how God has called us to serve. Passages that outline Christs servitude gives us the model to follow. But simply trying to copy the model without a desire to worship God leaves us seeking an improper means for our service and we will likely be seeking to somehow please ourselves.

Effective service comes back to truly loving God and thus loving people. Being enamored with who God is and what He has done for us.  This is what compels us to serve,  but He makes it effective.

Dayna Sheldon