I grew up with a very narrow view of what it means to serve God. Life was separated into two main spheres—the spiritual and the secular. Service to God was therefore limited to using ones gifts and abilities within the church or a specific type of Christian ministry—the “spiritual realm.” Then, as I entered adulthood, there was an additional thrust, namely, that to be a faithful Christian one must do great things for God and go out and change the world for Christ. Sounds like a wonderful challenge to pass on to our children and students, doesn’t it?
Now, consider this from Pastor Nick Batzig:
A "change the world" mentality often ironically serves as a catalyst for discontentment or undue guilt. The common failures and frustrations experienced in the mundane day-in and day-out aspects of life tend to leave those—who had hoped for more importance—jaded or callused as the years progress…
…The reality is that there was only one true and lasting world changer; and, He had to be mocked by men, nailed to the cross, subject to the powers of hell and fall under the wrath of God in order to bring about permanent and lasting change in the world. Whenever we are tempted to want to "think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think," we must remember that the way up is the way down, that he who would be greatest must become least and that the way to the crown is the way of the cross. We must seek to become a "will of God doer" rather than a "world changer"—even if that means changing dirty diapers for the glory of God.
Please read the entire article to more fully understand the context and main point. (For example, he is not calling us to set low expectations in our walk with the Lord or our desire to see the world impacted for the kingdom.)
This is an important topic to discuss with our children, especially as they grow older and begin to consider a vocation to pursue. Here are some points you could explore with your children to help them understand a biblical view of service to God.
- We have been created in a special way—in the image and likeness of God.
- We have been created for a special purpose—to glorify God.
- God has given His children a variety of abilities to be used in service to Him.
- Whatever work we do it should be done with the mindset of serving Jesus.
- Service to God blesses us and is used by God to help others and further His kingdom.
Key Texts to Read Together
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.—Colossians 3:23-24
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
—1 Corinthians 10:31
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.—1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Possible Discussion Questions
- All of our gifts and abilities are from God and should be used in service to God. Point out that some people brag about their gifts and abilities. Does anyone have a right to boast about an ability they have? Read and talk about 1 Corinthians 4:7b. How should knowing this shape our attitude toward the things we are good at? Because all our abilities are from God, and Jesus is Lord and Master, who deserves our service? Do you think of God “owning” your abilities? Do you tend to mainly think of ways to serve yourself and own interests? Can you think of a way you could serve God this week with an ability you have?
- All true service to God is important. Review Colossians 3:23-24. Ask: Suppose you volunteer to clean in the church kitchen for a dinner event. You do it gladly, work hard, and with a mindset of serving Jesus with your abilities. What if someone said, “That’s just kitchen help. You’re not doing anything important.” Would that be true? Recall 1 Corinthians 12:4-6.
- God is good and wise in the abilities He gives us. Read Matthew 25:14-26a and ask: Did the three servants receive the same amount of money from their master? Why did he give them different amounts? [He gave to each according to their ability.] God is wise and good in the abilities He gives His children. Some people will have more or greater abilities than others, but all service to God is important. (Recall that even though the first two servants were given different amounts, they both entered into the joy of their master. We should use even the smallest abilities in service to God. And, as we grow and mature, God often gives His children more responsibilities.
- We need to recognize and develop the abilities God has given us. Suppose you want to learn to play a musical instrument. After two lessons you say, “I’m no good at this. I’m going to give up and quit!” Emphasize that, especially when you are young, your job is to try a variety of different things and work hard at them “as unto the Lord.” You are to work heartily doing your schoolwork, chores, and music or sports practice as if you are doing it for Jesus. It could be that over time and with prayer, guidance from the Holy Spirit, and the encouragement of others, God gives you a love and proficiency in doing something—making clear how you can use these abilities in service to Him by helping others and helping to further His kingdom.
- We need God’s power in order to serve Him. Ask your child or teen to recall a time when he or she worked really hard at something. Ask: Are there times that you don’t give your best effort because you are lazy or something feels beyond your strength? Review 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 and then 1 Peter 4:10-11. According to these verses, can we serve God just by our own efforts and strength? Why is it important to recognize our need and who supplies it? Do you ask God for the strength needed to serve Him?
- No one can serve two masters. Read and talk about Jesus’ words from Matthew 6:24. Point out you could substitute other words for “money” in this verse. What are some other things people serve? [yourself, sports, food, play time, games, electronic gadgets, etc.] In what ways to people “serve” these things—in what ways do they let these things “master” them? Is this right? Is there anything in your life that wrongly acts as a master to you and turns you away from serving God? What steps could you take this week to grow in devotion to God?