A Heart to Serve
For many of us, serving in the various ministries of the church has become such an integral part of our lives that we rarely stop to reflect on why we serve, how we serve, and most importantly, what a privilege it is that we have these opportunities to serve. In recalling the first time she was moved to serve and her subsequent participation in the music ministry, a sister gains precious lessons of faith.
HE MOVED ME
Some of us may recall the first time we served the Lord. But how many of us can remember the moment when we first felt the strong calling to serve God? I remember the latter very clearly.
I was then around twelve or thirteen years old and attending a hymn evangelistic service in church. This was certainly neither my first time attending such a service nor hearing the choir sing. But that day was different. My eyes were drawn to the pianist; as I listened to the music, I felt compelled to serve God. At that moment, I resolved, “I want to be like her one day and serve God as a pianist.”
Looking back, my resolution does seem over-ambitious, for I barely knew the basics of piano then. Moreover, I did not even know how to plan to realize my aim to play as well as that sister. But at that moment, all I knew was I wanted to serve in the ministry, and I was determined to make it happen.
However, being a young teen, I soon forgot this initial inspiration. It was only a year later, when the church held a training session for pianists, that I remembered my resolution to serve the Lord. I took the first step to learn how to play the piano and God guided me the rest of the way.
Generally, most teenagers do not practice an hour of piano every day without being prodded by someone. In addition, I was not a particularly disciplined person. Even as an adult now, I have difficulty dedicating an hour each day towards something so persistently! But back then, each day after I returned home from school, I would practice for an entire hour without any parental reminder. Such tenacity to practice could only have come from God.
As I did not have a piano teacher, I often asked other sisters from church for advice. God later provided me with a church sister who walked me through all the hymns in the church hymnal over the course of more than a year. At first, it took me well over two weeks to learn to play just one hymn. Gradually, it took me less and less time to learn a new hymn, and three years after that memorable hymn evangelistic service, I began to serve as a pianist.
HE QUALIFIES THE CALLED
My journey from that first moment of inspiration to participation in the ministry provided me with a good lesson in faith—if we are willing to serve, God will help us and give us strength. However, as I served Him, there were times when I questioned myself and my ability to serve. I often felt that I did not match up to the others. In terms of technical skills, I was certainly not as professional as those brethren who specialized in music. As for personal cultivation, I felt that I was an ignoble vessel, lowly and lacking.
Such thoughts bogged me down and made serving in the music ministry burdensome. I no longer felt moved when playing the piano. Neither could I feel the joy from serving the Lord. Soon, playing the piano during services became little more than a task to be completed dutifully.
One day, a quote I had previously heard popped into my mind: “God doesn’t always call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” I pondered on that quote for some time, trying to recall biblical characters to whom the quote applied. I thought of the disciples who, though uneducated fishermen, were called by the Lord Jesus to speak before the elite scribes and Pharisees. I thought of Moses who, though fearful at first, was empowered by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. I thought of David who, though neither the oldest nor the tallest of the sons of Jesse, was chosen by God to be king. It then dawned on me that “[t]he Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).
The “outward appearance,” which includes factors such as looks, wealth, education levels, or technical skills, is not as important to God as our hearts and attitudes in service. If we have the heart to serve the Lord, He will personally guide and enable us to do so. Hence, if His Spirit moves within us, compelling us to take part in His work, we should go forth with confidence that comes from faith in God, for we know we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).
Spiritual cultivation before and during our service is key. Some may think, however, that this means we have to wait for a “better” time to serve or for the day when we have become “perfect.” God alone is good and perfect, yet He wants us to pursue His perfection. He understands that this is not achieved overnight but a journey that lasts through our lifetime. Even though we may not be perfect vessels, the Holy Spirit will constantly refine and renew us if we submit to His guidance.
In fact, serving God is integral to the path to perfection. By serving, we learn more about Christ and how to be more like Christ. We grow spiritually and are able to better understand the heart of God. By sharing in Christ’s work, we shall also share in His glory.
We are all at different stages in our service to the Lord. However, whether we are thinking about serving God or are currently doubting our own ability to serve, let us remember that since God has called us, it is His will for us to serve Him. And the Scriptures assure us that if we lack wisdom, strength, or zeal, we can ask God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to us (Jas 1:5).
God may call us to different areas
of service and may give us differing levels of ability. But one thing is common
to all of us—we have all received opportunities to work with Him, to experience
His power, His grace, and His abundant blessings. Do not allow the lack of
skills or lack of spiritual cultivation to hinder our participation in the
. When we resolve to serve the Lord, God
Himself will equip us and make us qualified servants. Thus, whenever the Lord
calls, let us answer as Isaiah did: “Here I am.”
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.“ (Isa 6:8)