The Trumpet Sounds: Serving helps

By Barry Pettit - Religion Columnist

The Bible teaches that as servants of the Lord, God has certain assignments for us to accomplish in this life. We read in Ephesians 2.10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

As followers of Christ we are God’s masterpieces. Literally, we are his works of art, created in Christ Jesus, not self-created. We are not self-made men and women. The spiritual life that comes through the born-again experience was created in Christ. And the purpose of our new lives in Christ was to fulfill the unique assignment that God has given to each of us according to his sovereign will. Ephesians 2.10 teaches that if you are a servant of the Lord, there is a plan, a destiny that God has in mind for you. Life is about discovering God’s purpose for you. To miss your assignment is to live a wasted life.

Life is not about indulging as many of our wants as we can, or trying to live above the rules, or creating our own dreams or forging our own destinies. People who live with no sense of God’s assignment constantly drift from one experience to another. They move from one job to another, one relationship to another, one location to another – always discontent, always searching, always on the move, always frustrated, never at peace.

In this world, there are situations, people and decisions that only you can touch in the unique way that God has purposed. Here is a little secret. Life is all about choosing for or against our assignment from God. Sometimes the choice is huge. There is an obvious fork in the road, and if we take one road, it is going to lead us to a radically different destination than if we take the other road. But mammoth decisions come along very infrequently in life. Most of our assignments from the Lord are very small. There is a phone call that God wants us to make. There is a person in the hospital that God wants us to visit. There is a dishwasher that God wants us to empty. There is a difficult conversation that God wants us to have. There is a relationship that God wants us to reconcile. There is a prayer that God wants us to pray. As servants, our time is not our own. Our money is not our own. We are on assignment from God. The question we constantly need to ask is, “Lord, what are the good works that you prepared beforehand for me to do?”

Serving not only helps others, serving blesses the servant. In serving others, we not only assist another person’s well-being, we also bless ourselves. This makes perfect sense since we human beings are designed to be servants. When we work in accordance with God’s design, we flourish. And when we don’t, we don’t!

So how does serving bless the servant? Serving increases self-confidence. In doing good for others in the church and in the community, we experience a natural sense of accomplishment. When we have a ministry role in the church or community, the role can provide us with a clear sense of identity. The better we feel about ourselves, the more likely we are to have a positive view of our lives and our future goals. Secondly, serving combats depression. One risk factor for depression is social isolation. Serving in some ministry keeps us in regular contact with others and helps us develop a solid support system. Serving improves people’s moods and reduces people’s stress and anxiety. Third, serving helps us stay physically healthy. Volunteering is good at any age, but it is especially beneficial for older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain and heart disease. Finally, serving makes us happy. Many studies demonstrate that helping others ignites our own happiness. Researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and happiness in a large group of American adults. They discovered that the more people volunteered, the happier they were.

A summary of their findings was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine. It said, “Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being very happy rose 7 percent among those who volunteer monthly and 12 percent for people who volunteer every two-four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16 percent felt very happy – a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000-$100,000 versus $20,000.” In other words, serving others will give people a happiness boost comparable to moving from poverty to the middle-class.

So when Jesus said: Give and it will be given to you, he knew what he was talking about! We may not be paid back in the same currency that we have used. We may give money or time and not necessarily be paid back in money or time. But if we are generous in serving, we will be paid back: with heightened self-esteem, with greater social connectedness, with a greater sense of purpose, with better health and with greater happiness!

This Sunday at South Side we will talk more about the power of serving others. Our worship service starts at 10:45, and we would love to have you and your family worship with us!

In Christ,

Barry Pettit

Lead Minister

South Side Church of Christ

By Barry Pettit

Religion Columnist