The Gift of Service
By Charles F. Stanley
When you receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, you receive another gift as well. Your spiritual gift helps you become all God wants you to be. Every believer has one or more of these, and their purpose is to empower you to serve God’s kingdom. “Employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). Paul writes that since our gifts vary, we should use them appropriately. (Romans 12:6-8)
God has equipped you with a gift that is perfect for the purpose He has for you in this life. Your entire personality— your motivations and tendencies—bear the imprint of your gift and your purpose. If you have the gift of service, for example, you will see yourself in the description that follows.
1. Those with the gift of service see and meet practical needs. If service is your gift, you are the first person in a group to notice the needs of others and to step forward to meet those needs. God gives a special sensitivity to these believers, and oftentimes they will think of another person and feel the desire to serve them in some way.
2. Those with the gift of service free others to achieve. Their special joy comes in being a part of someone else’s achievement. They discover an awesome spiritual principle: when we give of ourselves freely to help other people succeed, God turns the blessing in our direction. Jesus lived out this principal in all His days on earth.
3. Those with the gift of service have no regard for weariness. These servants work almost ceaselessly, beyond the point at which others grow weary. They delight in accomplishing the task and fulfilling someone else’s need, and that joy drives them onward. Those with the gift of service are the last to rest.
4. Those with the gift of service have difficulty saying no. God has designed them so that their central motivation in life is to meet needs. Other people may be very self-centered in all their tendencies, but those who are gifted in service are other-centered.
5. Those with the gift of service are alert to likes and dislikes. Your servant-friend will have a remarkable memory for the small details of your life: family names, favorite places, and so on. This is a natural God-given ability that comes as a part of His gift of service. Remembering these details places your friend in a better position to serve you.
6. Those with the gift of service have a strong desire to be with other people. These are the least likely people to be loners. Though they never neglect to spend time alone with God, they truly enjoy being with others. They cannot serve people unless they spend time with them, so they are always looking for opportunities to meet people and become involved in their lives.
7. Those with the gift of service need approval and recognition. Affirmation and recognition do not inflate the ego of the servant; these signs of approval confirm that the service has been effective. When we thank someone who has served us in Christ, we have given them evidence that they provided significant help. These believers need to be reminded that the smaller tasks can be important, too, because they enable others to perform the “higher profile” ones.
8. Those with the gift of service enjoy short-range projects. Believers with this gift can be frustrated by hearing that a project will require a great deal of time. They are eager to see progress and constant achievement, so short-range projects bring them a great deal of pleasure. Gifted servants can undertake more extended projects by dividing them into smaller sections and focusing on the goals that are more readily attained.
9. Those with the gift of service meet needs quickly. Believers with the gift of service are never procrastinators. They are quick to action when they observe a practical need. Committee approaches and bureaucratic delays are highly frustrating to those with the gift of service. They want to get to work.
10. Those with the gift of service often feel unqualified for spiritual leadership. These believers are unlikely to be overconfident. They are more often unsure of themselves but these feelings of inadequacy never prevent them from stepping forward to fill a need.They know they may lack some of the information or some of the skills they require, but what counts is that the need must be met.
What are some misunderstandings about this gift? Often a readiness to meet needs of others can seem like mere pushiness. A desire to avoid bureaucracy and “red tape” may seem exclusionary. The eagerness to serve can resemble a drive for self-advancement. The insistence upon serving will seem like an unwillingness to be served. Meeting practical needs may be seen as apathy toward spiritual ones. Finally, the servant will stop to meet needs, yet appear to be sidetracked from an employer’s assignment.
What if someone with this gift fails to walk in the Spirit? The wonderful impulses of servanthood take negative forms when the believer walks in the flesh rather than the Spirit. For one thing, the servant’s natural alertness to need becomes an insensitivity to it. A love of being with people turns to isolation and loneliness. Generosity becomes stinginess, and the joyful nature becomes self-pity. The servant’s availability gives way to a self-centered aloofness, and endurance is replaced by a tendency to give up.
We live in a world that glorifies celebrity, fame, and highly visible achievement. People work toward goals to bring credit to themselves or gain power for themselves. Meanwhile, God’s servants quietly but effectively build the kingdom of God and bring glory to His name through their consistent, dependable, and loving work. They know that nothing worthwhile can be accomplished in their own power, but through the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, there are no limits to what might be done.
My friend, you may recognize the gift of service in your life, and you may already be reaping the joys that come with it. Even if you have some other gift, you can discover what God’s servants already know: that there is nothing in life more fulfilling than meeting the needs His Spirit shows us.
Characteristics of someone with the gift of service:
- Sees and meets practical needs.
- Frees others to achieve.
- Disregard for weariness.
- Difficulty saying “no.”
- Alert to likes and dislikes.
- Strong desire to be with others.
- Need for approval and appreciation.
- Likes short-range projects.
- Meets needs quickly.
- Tendency to feel inadequate and unqualified for spiritual leadership.