Finding Joy in Serving

I have been thinking recently about what it means to serve in the church and how that may correlate to whether or not people serve outside the church. I know from experience that getting people to “volunteer” or serve within the church is hard. There are never enough childcare workers, youth leaders, people to serve food, clean up after events, teach classes, etc. Sure, all of those things seem to get done each week, but I would dare say that a small, select group of people in the church manage to get all of these things done. Some people serve in multiple areas of the church, often going multiple weeks in a row without even getting to attend the worship service due to helping somewhere they are needed. 

A report by US Protestant Pastors reported that, on average, 42% of adult churchgoers volunteer at church. That seems too high to me. But even if that’s true, that means that basically, 3 out of every 5 church attendees don’t serve at their church. That is a high number of people who attend church each week without actively serving in some manner. This creates loads of burnout and overused servants in the church. This week, I read a story about a woman who lost her desire and joy to serve the Lord because she began having hurt feelings and resentment toward the people she saw who did not serve the Lord. Now, admittedly, she soon would learn and repent about comparing herself to others, judging, and self-service instead of TRUE service. She was encouraged by a friend not to allow others’ failure to serve to rob her of her desire to serve because, ultimately, it wasn’t about them, but it was about Him! 

But if that is happening in the church, how is that affecting how we serve outside the church? Another study done by Lifeway Research revealed that more church attendees serve regularly in their church than in their communities. Only 27% reported volunteering or serving in their communities. Honestly, I find that number to be too high. What we see at Operation Inasmuch as we talk to pastors and church leaders is that 10-20% of believers serve in some meaningful way outside the church. 

People excuse not serving because of things like lack of time and lack of ability. They say, “No one has ever asked me,” or “Isn’t that the pastor’s job?” They are scared or just unsure where to start in serving. Maybe they just write a check and count that as their service. The reality is that they are missing out! True service to others is a rush and leaves the server with a tremendous amount of JOY. 

In the book Compassionaries: Unleash the Power of Serving, David Crocker does a great job of talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to compassion ministry and serving others. One of the chapters talks about the Happiness Trifecta. The Happiness Trifecta occurs because we are hardwired to serve because it connects us more closely with others and because it gives us purpose and meaning. 

We are hardwired to serve because serving does something to us inside. It can create a “helper’s high.” The high is a release of endorphins in the brain that makes people feel satisfied, energized, and happy. This can lead to overall healthier lives too. Marta Zaraska concludes in her book, Growing Young: How Friendship, Kindness, and Optimism Can Help You Live to 100, that serving reduces mortality by 22-44%, people who volunteer have 29% lower risk of high blood pressure, experience 17% lower risk of inflammation levels, and spend 38% fewer nights in the hospital. Pretty impressive, right? 

Serving others also helps us form stronger connections with those around us. We were created as social beings. Serving alongside others helps build meaningful relationships. It demonstrates authenticity to those we serve and to the work being done. 

The last part of the Trifecta is that serving enhances our sense of purpose and meaning. We all wonder what our purpose is. Purpose is your reason for being. Happiness and purpose are not the same, but they are definitely related. When you know and pursue your purpose, you are happier and more satisfied. Serving others in need gives you purpose and enhances your own sense of value. It gives you joy. 

All of these things are good, but as followers of Jesus, there is still a greater reason that we should serve: obeying or fulfilling God’s commands to serve people in need. There are dozens and dozens of verses about doing just that. God has a special place for the poor and the oppressed. We are told throughout scripture to help the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, and care for the sick. Serving others demonstrates our love for them, but even more so, God’s deep and ever-present love. 

Are you like the lady above who feels burned out with serving? I would ask you to consider that maybe part of your “volunteering” is SELF-SERVICE. Self-service is about choosing who and when we will serve. It is about making ourselves feel better. There is no long-term joy in that approach to service. True Service is about humility. It is about lowering your pride and serving, knowing you will receive no personal glory. It means acting wherever and whenever needed. It means finding and experiencing JOY once again. 

Or maybe you are part of the statistics above? Maybe you are part of the 80% that is not living out your faith through daily acts of compassion to others. You have the power to give people hope, transform the community, show God to your neighbors, and live a longer, healthier life… all through serving others. You will find joy in serving!

For more information about how Operation Inasmuch can help you or your church begin to live out your faith through daily acts of compassion, please contact us.

Written by:
Gene Whaley

Ministry Director

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Connected!

Subscribe to our e-news and blogs.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Operation Inasmuch. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact