Rushing home from work, I crammed my dinner down my throat. Taking a quick glance at the clock, I hopped in for a three minute shower, then out of the tub, back into my clothes, out the door, and to the church. A long day at the office resulted in my leaving late and everything between that and the time I walked through the doors of the sanctuary was just a blur. I was exhausted, but the night was still young. Inside were kids (lots of them) waiting for my attention. “Did I even eat dinner?” I asked myself, truly wondering whether I had as I plopped my Bible on the music stand.
We’ve all been there. School and work can be tiring and sometimes overly so. We look forward to our time off, but before we reach that blessed relief, we find another demand or two knocking on our door. Unlike the demand for an education or the money to pay our bills, these demands are more persistent: they come from the church. Often wrapped in the sentiments of “will you please pray about God’s call regarding your service” or “could you do this just once… no one else will”, it can be hard to see these demands as “optional”. After all, if we love God, we should be about His work. Right?
While it’s true that those who belong to God will serve Him (John 12:26), we are severely mistaken if we believe that the only way to do so is through the doors of the church. After all, Jesus’ commission to us was to “Go into the world…” (Matthew 28:18), not to ask it to come to us! The result is that, while service within the church is important, a good deal of our work as believers ought to take place outside it… in the halls of academia, in supermarket aisles, and even in the company break room. It is in these places that our ability to shine the light of Christ matters most because here, the darkness is greatest.
This doesn’t, of course, mean that we ought never to serve in our local body of believers. Scripture is pretty clear about the importance of service within the body of Christ. (Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 4:10) What it does mean is that we ought never to serve simply because we (or others) feel that service is somehow more “godly” if it is done from a pulpit or the front of a classroom. There are plenty of ways to be a useful member of the body of Christ and each of them is important to the health of the whole! (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 7:7 and 12:4-31)
How does this relate to rest? Quite honestly, it means that whenever we are given an opportunity to serve, we need to prayerfully consider the whole equation. Has God gifted you for a particular task? If He has, doesn’t always mean that He’s calling you to exercise that gift right now. Take the time to consider whether you have the resources in both time and energy to do the job well. If not, there’s a good chance this isn’t the right time for you to commit to being the church organist or teaching a preschool class.
While some would argue that those whom God calls, God equips, there are others who equally rightly point out that there is a time and a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Take some time to pray about the opportunity. If you receive peace and the pieces fall into place, say yes. If you don’t, bow out gracefully. You may disappoint others, but I can guarantee that you’ll disappoint them more if you show up grumpy and unprepared because you really did need some rest!
What about those who are already in regular ministry? We’ll take a look at that next week, but for now, feel free to share your own thoughts in the comment box below!