Cultivating Christlike Culture
Unwrapping Our Spiritual Gifts Part 01, Serving.
Fall is my absolute favorite season. The vibrant reds, oranges and yellows of the Michigan fall foliage never cease to take my breath away this time of year. I love the billowy clouds, blustery days and crisp sweater weather that hint at the coming winter.
But even as I take in October's beauty, my mind is already looking down the road to the holiday season. I've begun making Christmas lists, marking the calendar for family gatherings. Even our youth choir started practicing for our upcoming winter performance. This year's presentation is called the Christmas Present.
It got me thinking. How are we as Christian leaders doing with the same thoughtful preparation that's needed for each of us to share our gifts all year long? I'm talking about a different kind of gift. It's not something we buy, or manufacture. It's an intangible, yet invaluable gift that is imparted to us as believers in Jesus Christ. It's called a spiritual gift. It's sole purpose is to be not only recognized and understood, but actively used as a means of practically demonstrating the character of Christ without being religious and pious. Do we know what our spiritual gift is? Are we actively exploring and activating the unique gifts inside us to help others? Do we understand how to use them to make a difference? If not, I encourage you to download this free Spiritual Gift Assessment to discover yours.
With that as our background, let's delve into the first of a series of transformational blogs titled - UNWRAPPING OUR GIFTS, Cultivating a Culture of Christ Without Being Religious. Each of us has a power of influence. Our goal is to recognize, hone and effectively impact our sphere of influence when given opportunity. I challenge us to look inward and forward in developing our talents to serve something bigger than ourselves...
When we walk with Jesus, He graciously gives each of us spiritual gifts to serve His kingdom. But do we truly understand these gifts and how to unwrap them for God's glory?
In Romans 12, Paul urges us to think soberly about the grace-gifts God has given. We are one body with many members, each with divine gifts to discover. Serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing mercy - our gifts differ according to God's grace.
Today, let's discuss what it looks like to unwrap the spiritual gift of serving?
The Servant's Heart
The server is motivated by meeting practical needs. They offer time, skills and resources to benefit others with tangible provisions. Servers find joy in adding thoughtful touches to their work.
Here are some examples of Christians throughout history and current influencers who have demonstrated the spiritual gift of service:
Amy Carmichael - Missionary to India who served exploited and abandoned children through her Dohnavur Fellowship orphanages [https://www.dohnavurfellowship.org/]
William and Catherine Booth - Founded The Salvation Army which serves impoverished communities worldwide [https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/]
Mother Teresa - Catholic nun who served the poor and dying in India through her Missionaries of Charity [http://www.motherteresa.org/]
William Wilberforce - Led the movement to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire as part of the Clapham Sect [https://www.history.com/topics/british-history/william-wilberforce]
Florence Nightingale - Trailblazed modern nursing and transformed hospital care and treatment [https://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/]
Rick Warren - Founder of PEACE Plan to tackle global issues through Saddleback Church [https://saddleback.com/connect/peace-plan]
Christine Caine - Founder of A21 Campaign, a nonprofit fighting human trafficking [https://www.a21.org/index.php]
Eugene Cho - Founder of One Day's Wages to alleviate extreme poverty [https://www.onedayswages.org/]
Shane Claiborne - Christian activist leading efforts for the marginalized through The Simple Way [https://www.thesimpleway.org/]
Sister Helen Prejean - Advocates against death penalty through Ministry Against the Death Penalty [https://www.sisterhelen.org/ministry/]
Levi Lusko - Founder of O2 providing grief support through Fresh Life Church [https://wearero2.com/]
Benjamin Watson - NFL player who started charity One More to help at-risk families [https://www.onemore.org/]
The Servant's Pitfalls
With every good gift comes the responsibility to find balance and boundaries while using it. One of the most common struggles for those with the gift of serving is overcommitting themselves and having difficulty setting healthy boundaries. In their eagerness to meet every need they see, servants often pile too many tasks and responsibilities onto their own shoulders. Without proper discernment, they find it hard to say "no" when asked to take on more.
This tendency frequently leads servants to neglect their own self-care in the process. Just as Jesus periodically "withdrew to desolate places and prayed" (Luke 5:16), servants need to prioritize rest and renewal. Otherwise, they'll end up burnt out with no margin left to serve joyfully and sustainably.
Servants also often fail to appropriately delegate tasks or utilize others' gifts. While their heart is to carry the load themselves, refusing help can hinder their calling. Stewarding their energy and relying on teamwork maximizes their impact long-term.
For example, a servant-hearted leader may continue saying "yes" to projects at work until they are overwhelmed and sacrificing their family time. A spirit of martyrdom rather than proper self-management motivates them. Without setting boundaries, they deprive others of opportunities to contribute.
On a church team, a person gifted in service may take on multiple needs like childcare, meals and event setup without asking for help. Their servant's heart can become a "messiah complex" rather than functioning as part of a body.
The wise servant understands their limits and prayerfully relies on God's wisdom to discern priorities and set a sustainable pace. They focus on stewarding their unique gifts rather than carrying every burden alone. Trusting God's guidance and timing protects servants from burning out and missing the abundant life Jesus intends.
The Servant's Sweet Spot
Here's a limited list of good career choices and positions for those with the gift of serving:
Unsung heroes who volunteer for nonprofits, community organizations, churches, hospitals etc.
First responders like firefighters, EMTs and police officers
Nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers
Social workers and counselors
Nursing - caring for the sick and vulnerable
Social work - helping at-risk populations
Nonprofit work - tackling issues like poverty, education, climate change
Teaching - educating and inspiring students
Ministry and counseling - providing spiritual and emotional support
Volunteer coordination for charities and community groups
Customer service and hospitality - meeting people's needs
Caregiving for elderly and disabled
Disaster relief organizations
Service-oriented government jobs
The key for someone with the gift of serving is finding a career that allows them to fulfill practical needs and offer compassion in roles that may not directly benefit themselves, but truly make a difference in others' lives. Jobs that involve caring, supporting, responding and sacrificing to meet tangible needs are a great fit.
Unwrapping Our Gifts
As we grow in Christ, discovering and applying our spiritual gifts brings personal fulfillment and glorifies God. Here are some practical ideas for utilizing the gift of serving in ministry and the marketplace:
Volunteer to coordinate hospitality or meals for church events and classes
Offer administrative assistance to church staff to free them up for other ministry
Lead the effort to mobilize church volunteers for community service days
Launch a program to visit and care for the elderly or sick in your congregation
Chair a committee focused on maintaining and improving church facilities
Create a respite care team to support families caring for loved ones
Serve within a trauma informed care ministry
In the Marketplace:
Look for a career in healthcare, education, hospitality or nonprofits where you can meet tangible needs
Become an advocate for service-oriented policies and social justice in your company
Lead employee volunteer programs partnering with charities and community causes
Use your skills to benefit a faith-based nonprofit outside of work hours
Offer administrative and organizational assistance to entrepreneurial startups
Provide free services to those in need, such as financial planning or legal aid
Mentor youth in underserved communities to help launch future careers
Leverage your platform and voice to fundraise for missions or poverty relief
"The gift of service is one of the highest callings God bestows upon us. To recognize the talents we have been given not as ours alone, but as tools to lift the burdens of another, takes great spiritual maturity and Christ-like compassion. The servant's heart knows that our gifts become multiplied blessings only when given away. So we must unwrap the present within us by offering it freely through selfless love." ~ Christine Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign and Propel Women https://caine.org
Christine Caine is a powerful example of someone who has devoted her life and abilities to serving the vulnerable and exploited. Through her nonprofit work fighting human trafficking and empowering women, Caine demonstrates how activating our unique gifts for others brings transformation. Her words inspiredly capture the essence of the spiritual gift of service.
Whatever we do, we can start today by taking one small step this week: sign up to serve at church, research local nonprofits, or have a conversation with HR in the workplace about volunteer opportunities. Together let's unwrap the blessing within us by sharing it with others! Today's challenge: Unwrap your spiritual gift of serving by the end of this week. We'd love to hear how God uses you to make a difference in the world. #spiritualgifts #servantsheart #giftsofservice #servingothers #volunteer #mercy #compassion #talents #calling #ministry #helps