I received an email from my church today, and I assume everyone else who serves in any ministry and holds a valid email address did as well. It was a generic thank-you-for-serving message with an additional request. The church is holding its annual ministry fair this weekend, and they are apparently putting together a multimedia presentation that will include quotes from members. So this email asked for a one- or two-sentence response to the question “Why do you serve?”

Well, if you know me, you know I’m slow of speech and fast of finger–I am not of many words when speaking, but I find it very difficult to avoid being longwinded when writing. Two sentences wouldn’t have been nearly enough. So here’s my response to the question.

It’s the wrong question. The real question is, “Why don’t I serve more?” I mean, there are so many needs to be met in the church. There are always holes in the tech department, nursery, children’s ministry, facilities, you name it! In fact, I sometimes feels like the only places where I serve are the ones that don’t really need me. There are plenty of bass players (more skilled than I) to fill the worship team schedule, lots of people audition for Christmas Dessert Theatre every year, the choir would still be strong without me. (I do assuage my conscience by serving in children’s ministry.) I know that some people appreciate me serving where I do, but it sometimes feels like there is more need in other places.

Shouldn’t everybody? After all, the Bible is pretty clear that Christians are supposed to be serving. Over and over, we are told that the greatest shall be the servant of all; that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works; that our leaders prepare us for works of service to build up the Body; that faultless religion is to look after orphans and widows. Philippians 2 is one of my favorites: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who… made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…”

I am grateful. To paraphrase GK Chesterton: we show our gratitude for living by living rightly (“by not being Oscar Wilde”). God has given me so much, especially through this church, and I am more grateful than I can say. So if I can’t say it, I might as well try to show it. If I’ve received a blessing, I should strive to multiply that blessing to other people. You know, we only truly love God when we love people.

You may be thinking, But I serve in other places! The Bible doesn’t limit us to serving only in the church. It’s true, and good for you for serving people outside the church! But we are called to serve within it.

So what do you think? Where are you serving, and how would you answer the question?