Family Matters Part 4: Serving
On Sunday 26th February at our morning service,we continued our series 'Family Matters' with the topic 'Serving'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
At the start of our talk, we watched a Youtube clip called Millionaire Garbage Man. You can watch this by clicking here.
Each one of us has been given certain abilities and gifts. Some more than others it’s true, but we all have them. How we use them will determine whether we are serving ourselves, others or God (or any combination of the three).
For over 25 years I used my gifts and abilities to further my career at ICI. It’s true that my family benefitted, but to be honest, for most of that time I was using what I had been given to serve myself. And if moving up the corporate ladder was a measure of success, then I was very successful. Flying ‘business class’ to many countries in other parts of the world, and staying at the best hotels; I was the envy of my friends.
I did consider myself to be a Christian, but I wasn’t attending any church regularly, and serving others and serving God wasn’t really in my thinking. Then, when I left ICI in 2000, I started attending EBC regularly and people there became my church family. I started reading my bible regularly, and I came to realize that I had been using my abilities and gifts in a selfish way. The teaching of Jesus made it very clear that my self-serving was definitely not the way a true follower should behave.
In particular, in the account written by John, one of Jesus’ closest followers, there is a record of Jesus washing his disciples feet. You can read it by clicking here. This was the clearest possible indication that for Jesus’ followers, when it came to serving, no task should be too trivial or beneath them. More than that, Jesus said that we would be blessed if we do them.
In addition to this, Jesus gives a very clear message when he tells a parable in Matthew’s account of Jesus life that you can read here. This is essentially about God pouring out his gifting onto us and asking that we use it. We need to recognize that God has given us many things. Not just money and possessions, but time, abilities and characteristics as well. Our ‘talents’ therefore go beyond money and relate to absolutely everything that God has entrusted us with. Jesus is telling us that his followers are called to make things grow; to try to multiply the gifts that God has given us. What we have is of great value, but it is of no value if it is just kept within us and never used – especially to serve God and to serve others.
Obviously this teaching had a huge impact on his closest followers at the time. Peter was the leader of this group, and in a letter to some churches in North West Turkey, he picks up this theme of serving which you can read here. In chapter 4 and verse 10 he writes, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace…..”
At EBC, serving is at the very heart of our values:
CARING – When we serve we are caring for others.
COMMITMENT – When we serve, it demonstrates and gives an example of our commitment.
COMMUNITY – We serve our community, not just at EBC but our wider community via activities like Refresh, Storehouse and Night Shelter.
COMMUNICATION – The fact that we serve others selflessly, communicates something about us, the church and God!
CELEBRATE – When we celebrate, invariably we are serving each other by lifting each other’s spirits and our sense of family.
The key question for each one of us is, “what abilities and gifts do you have, and how are you using them?” Now it’s time to be honest, because we are really good at making excuses aren’t we? Like, “I could never possibly do that, “I’m just not good enough,” or “I know I don’t really have the necessary skills”.
Another question. Have you ever really explored what talents and gifts you have been given? There are a number of different ways of doing this, from completing a simple questionnaire, to attending a specific development course like “Network” that we occasionally run at EBC. They are very useful, and can get you started with discovering and using your gifts and abilities. However, I’m beginning to think that perhaps the best way is to just try something new, something different. As the Nike slogan encourages, “Just Do It”
The truth is that many of us have hidden or latent talents. For all sorts of reasons we tend to keep them locked away. We may have kept them hidden so long that we forget we even have them. God is calling us to do everything we can while we are still on earth, to use all the talents he has given us at every opportunity. This may seem a bit scary, but in reality it is exciting! Every talent is needed; none is inconsequential.
We shouldn’t see serving as a chore or merely a responsibility. We should see it as a joy! Jesus said that when we serve we are blessed! So let’s follow His teaching and His example, like Peter, by loving each other deeply, and finding joy for ourselves in the process.
These days, on a Tuesday afternoon, you will find me at the Crown Wood Community Centre. I am a “Bingo Caller’s Runner”. This means that when someone calls a ‘line’ or a ‘house’ I have to retrieve the winning card and check the numbers with the bingo caller who is often Simon Lace. On these occasions I sometimes remark to Simon that I used to be someone important at ICI and now……..? His reply is often the same, “serving as you are now is far more important”. Do you know, I think that he’s right!
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. Do you agree that everyone has been given certain abilities and gifts?
2. Do you agree that how a person uses their gifts and abilities is an indicator of whom they are primarily serving?
3. What message was Jesus conveying when he washed his disciples feet? What impact has this had/does this have on your life?
4. In the parable of the three servants and the bags of gold in Matthew 25, which of the three servants are you most like and why?
5. Do you think that you might have gifts, abilities and talents that you are not currently using to serve others and serve God? What are you going to do to change?
6. The five EBC Values are clearly stated. In terms of serving, are you involved in each one of them in some way? How do you think we are doing as a church?