Use Your Energy to Serve the Lord
Another Sunday, and I came home from church feeling empty. I had begun to notice a pattern that was confusing to me. After times of fellowship with the body of Christ was when I felt the most dissatisfied. I felt disappointed that others had not served me, encouraged me, loved me the way I felt they should have. Even when I tried to serve expecting nothing in return, I still ended up feeling the same way.
One Saturday in early January 2014, I volunteered to help tear down the Christmas decorations at the church. I have to admit, my motives were selfish yet again. Even though I was serving, I wanted others to serve me. I at least wanted some fellowship. But no one seemed to really notice I was there. I worked in the foyer for a while, rolling up ribbons of all different colors, alone. Eventually, a seven-year-old girl became my shadow, which was at first somewhat of an annoyance to me. I wanted adult conversation, attention and encouragement from someone who could ask me about how I’m really doing. For the rest of the morning, this girl followed me everywhere: up and down the stairs, through the sanctuary, through the hallways. She was my own personal helper. Yet I still left the church that day feeling empty and disappointed because I had not been served in the way that I had wanted.
That night, feeling quite discontent, I sat down and tried to think of something from the day for which I was thankful. My mind was blank. All I could think about was my disappointment and loneliness. Why is it that the church never serves me? But then my thinking took on a different perspective. What about that little seven-year-old girl who so dutifully followed me around all morning? It seemed as if she didn’t have any expectations that might get crushed. She was simply living in the moment, helping where help was needed. It didn’t seem to matter to her who she was serving with, simply that she was serving. That is what I want my service to look like: the heart of a child.
It was with this mindset that I discovered Romans 12 with new eyes. In the God’s Word translation, the second half of verse 11 reads, “Use your energy to serve the Lord.” This verse jumped out at me and convicted my heart. How have I been using my energy? To serve myself. But I don’t want to serve myself. For one thing, it only leads to disappointment and dissatisfaction. No, I want to use the energy the Lord has so generously given me to serve Him (which, practically, looks like me using my gifts to serve others). I want to go to church free of my desire to control my interactions to get what I think will satisfy me. I want to have eyes that see whom it is that I should serve instead of determining how I can best serve myself. I want to be carefree like a child in serving where I see a need.
Verses 6-8 of Romans 12 expand the idea of using your gifts to serve the Lord by serving others:
God in His kindness gave each of us different gifts…
If your gift is serving, then devote yourself to serving.
If it is teaching, devote yourself to teaching.
If it is encouraging others, devote yourself to giving encouragement.
If it is sharing, be generous.
If it is leadership, lead enthusiastically.
If it is helping people in need, help them cheerfully.
I especially love how this translation uses the words devote yourself. To me, this implies wholehearted living for the Lord, who has sacrificed Himself for me in love. It means taking the specific gifts God has given me and carefully filling the time (which He has also given me) with selfless service.
What are my gifts? Among others, God has given me the gift of singleness right now. And how better to use the energy He has given me as a single woman than to devote myself to serving others?
Since my biggest challenge in serving was Sunday mornings when I expected others to serve me, I decided to prayerfully reread Romans 12 every morning before church. I prayed that the Lord would keep me from serving myself – and help me instead to have my eyes open to how I may serve those around me. I prayed that He would help me to surrender the desire to control my interactions – and instead help me to look for the people that He placed in my path. I prayed that I would seek ways to intentionally encourage and care for those in the body of Christ.
And something amazing happened: God answered my prayers. God has given me opportunities in relationships that I couldn’t have imagined. I have been surprised in meeting so many new people and in connecting with those I would not have otherwise. Slowly, the emptiness I used to feel in leaving church was transformed into fullness of joy. Week after week, I now see how blessed I am. And all because of a heart that is willing to serve the Lord.
It wasn’t (and still isn’t) easy to resist the urge to serve myself. But through ongoing prayer and constant reminders to “use my energy to serve the Lord,” God is changing the desires of my heart. I have new motivation and perspective. What if the purpose of every circumstance in my life is to glorify God? That all things are carefully chosen by the Sovereign Lord for my good? (Romans 8:28-29) Then my response should be to willingly serve Him – for that will bring me the most satisfaction and that will bring Him the most glory.