Should I sing in the choir?
Should I help at the food bank?
Should I teach Sunday school?
Should I join the planning committee for the men’s retreat?
Should I apply for the mission team heading to Thailand?
Amidst long lists of important opportunities to serve, how am I to figure out the unique role God has for me in the Body?
The way we tend to answer that question is by first asking “What’s out there?” In other words, what’s on the list of Opportunities to Serve? In that case it is often the biggest event or the most persistent recruiter or the most urgent need that captures our attention and moves us to sign up.
Certainly there is value in responding to a call to serve or in attempting to fill a need, even if that opportunity to serve is not our lifelong passion. In Nehemiah’s day, when God’s people were rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, someone had to repair the Dung Gate, and most likely the district ruler named Malchijah who did the job would not have listed that as his favorite thing to do (Nehemiah 3:14). In our day, any parent could tell you that there is a never-ending list of mostly mundane tasks that go into caring for a child. Those things are of immense importance, yet few moms would consider diaper-changing as her primary role in the Body!
I believe there is another way to find our unique contribution to the family of God. Rather than first checking to see “What’s out there?” we need to be asking “What’s in me?” How has God shaped me–in my spiritual gifts, natural abilities, experience and passion–to carry out a unique and needed role in the Body of Christ?
It’s possible that nothing on the list of service opportunities fits the unique combination of heart and skills and experience that God has given me. But that doesn’t mean I’m off the hook and don’t have to serve. Nor does it require that I sigh and select something from the list just so I can say I’m serving. Instead, what that means is that I need to find out what makes me come alive…and then go and do it, even if it’s not on the list.
Each Christian has been given by God a unique ministry that is needed for the proper functioning of the Body. What could the Church become–and accomplish–if every person were carrying out the role that God designed us for?! So if a volunteer is needed to change diapers in the nursery, do it with all your heart. But don’t stop there. Keep asking yourself “What has God given uniquely to me for the building up of His Church?” And then figure out a way to go and do it!