Audit Your Serving of Others
Have you ever had your taxes audited? What about your church’s or non-profit’s finances? Even if you have not, you have some sense of what an audit is—a thorough analysis of personal or business finances to make sure everything in that department is as it should be.
The end of last year and the beginning of 2023 is a good time to conduct an audit . . . not of our finances but of our serving. Much like mulling our personal goals, health habits, how we spend our time, etc., we can take stock of how well, how often, and whom we served in order to improve our service this year.
I offer 3 ways to conduct an audit of your serving:
- Do your accounts balance? In a financial audit, the first thing the auditor is looking for is whether accounts balance, whether income and expenses are correctly recorded. When I was in college, I worked for a large hotel as a night clerk. The biggest part of my job was to reconcile the day’s transactions conducted at the desk. This was hardly a professional audit, but I did learn the importance of accuracy when conducting business. Most nights, I poured over that day’s transactions trying to find the error that threw the accounts out of balance.
In a serving audit, we take stock of how much we served last year—how often, whom, in what ways, and so forth. When I reflect on my own serving in 2022, there are good and bad. The good is I served regularly at a non-profit in my community. It was rewarding, and I was part of helping many people in need throughout the year. The bad is I did not serve my neighbors—the people living in close proximity to me—very well. I had good intentions but did not follow through, with only a couple of exceptions.
- Were proper methods of accounting used during the year? An auditor is just as interested in whether a person/business has followed accepted procedures of accounting as whether the book’s “balance.” It is possible for accounts to balance but correct procedures not be followed.
What does this look like in an audit of serving? It has to do with motives. Do you serve others mainly because it makes you feel good? Do you serve others because you want your church or business to look good? Do you serve others because it enhances your resume?
Jesus cared as much about motives as he did right living. His harsh criticisms of the Jewish leaders of his time were aimed at their motives. Truth be told, doing the right thing is easier than doing it for the right reasons.
Healthy motives for serving others:
- They are fellow human beings who need what we can do for them.
- God has compassion for people in need, and He expects us to also.
- Serving others gives them hope – an indispensable commodity of mental health.
- Serving others is a testimony of God’s caring as exemplified in Jesus.
- What have we learned? Recommendations are always part of a financial audit. The auditor issues his findings as to the accounts and the use of accepted procedures for conducting business properly. He also makes recommendations to improve financial practices. In other words, he asks, “What have we learned from this audit?”
In light of our findings about our serving last year, how will we do things differently in 2023? If our serving was too sporadic and infrequent, is there a way to commit to regular serving to avoid procrastination or the tyranny of the urgent? If our serving was limited to one group of people or one kind of need, are there ways to diversify our serving? If our motives for serving have been unhealthy or disingenuous, how can we make the needed corrections so that we are not only doing the right thing but also for the right reasons?
Serving audit for a church
What if congregations were to conduct an audit of their serving people in need? What would they find? My experience of 15 years of working in the Inasmuch ministry is they would find that a fairly small group of their members are actively engaged in serving people in need. Is that acceptable? Before you answer that question, read the Gospel of Luke.
What do you think?
Are you willing to audit your serving of others? Your church’s serving of people in need? If so, would you be willing to share some of your findings?
Leave a Reply