A Heart to Serve
by: Karie Owens
“I am seating you another table of eight!” The hostess bustled by me alerting me of another table of customers that I would be serving. “Okay, great!” With my tray in hand, I was delivering a simmering, delicious sirloin steak and turkey dinner. With a smile I said, “Enjoy your meal. Please let me know if you need anything.” I carefully refilled the happy couple’s Coke and coffee and then I was off to greet my next party.
When I was a young lady, I worked as a food server at Kings Family Restaurant. This is a small chain restaurant similar to IHOP or Bob Evans. During the summers, I would work and save up for college. Spending time reflecting on my position as a food server, I realized the one characteristic that would make or break you in a serving position is whether or not your heart was into it.
The same is true of the Christian life. Do we have a heart to serve our Saviour? Do we have a heart to serve others? It’s not a decision our parents, spouse or pastor can make for us. We must decide to surrender our hearts to God as we serve Him. No matter how dedicated and true our intentions, at times we might find ourselves just going through the motions. We may be fooling those around us, but not the most important One we are serving; God. I invite you to journey through the restaurant of the Christian life, tie on your apron, and lets see what God intends for us…a heart to serve.
1. Serve God from the heart because of what He has done for you.
We may thank the Lord for our salvation, but do we really think about what our salvation means through Jesus Christ? Let’s just say I had committed a crime and robbed a restaurant, and then burned it down. I was then later caught and taken to prison for my crime. On my court date, I appeared before a judge and was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to jail. Suddenly, as I hung my head, a voice rang out, “I will take her place; I will pay for her crime in full.” The owner of the restaurant came to take my place. The one whom I committed the crime against was offering to pay for it. Not only am I freed from the penalty of my crime, the owner offered me a place to work in another one of his restaurants as a manager with full benefits. Wouldn’t you feel compelled to serve this owner out of love and gratitude? This seems ridiculous, but really how much more has God done for us through His Son Jesus Christ? “Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24) Do you know Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Have you accepted his death, burial and resurrection as the payment for your sin debt? Well then, you are now saved from the penalty of an eternity in Hell to eternal life in Heaven. We should serve out of gratefulness and thankfulness for God literally pulling us out of Hell. We may lose our heart for serving, or our joy in serving, because we do not think about our salvation enough.
I was studying my Bible and learned when I got saved, I not only gained Heaven and was saved from an eternity in Hell, but I was also offered so many other things through Christ’s sacrifice. Romans 3:24-25 says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” The word “justification” is described as remission of sin and absolution from guilt and punishment, or an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner and accepts him as righteous, on the account of the atonement of Christ. Okay, translation…I could have NEVER done that on my own. Thank you, God! Next, redemption is the purchase of God’s favor by the death and sufferings of Christ; the ransom or deliverance of sinners from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God’s violated law by the atonement of Christ. Wow! Propitiation is the act of appeasing wrath, and remission is giving up a punishment due to a crime. I am still in awe of what Christ did that I could have never done. Romans 5:11 says, “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” With my salvation came atonement which is reconciliation of sin made by the obedience and personal sufferings of Christ. Because of what Jesus Christ made available through His obedience and love for me, I will serve Him, His way. This must be a daily heart decision that no one can make for me. I must decide to serve the Lord sincerely from the heart.
2. At salvation, you have been “set apart” for Christ’s service and use.
When I started working as an employee at Kings, I did not go to another restaurant to work, I was hired to work there, and that is where I went. When I went to work, I was expected to perform specific duties. My job as a food server was different from that of a cook, cashier, hostess, or dishwasher.
You have gifts and talents that were given to you by God just so you can serve Him like no one else can. We need to live in the reality of our salvation and the wonderful opportunity to serve our heavenly Father and King! At salvation, we did a complete 180º turn and changed our minds about what we were trusting in to take us to Heaven and put our total faith in Jesus Christ. Likewise, at the moment of salvation, we went from serving the world, and the father of it, Satan, to serving Christ. Joshua 24:14 says, “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.” I understand that most of you reading this article are saved, separated believers. On the outside we “wear the uniform and look the part,” but what about the idols of the heart? What about the secret places that only God sees? In order to serve God “in sincerity and in truth,” we need to put away the strange gods that lurk in our hearts and minds. Maybe you have been hurt and harbor the idol of self preservation. Perhaps you come from a strong family or have many talents and have put more faith in these instead of fully resting in God’s power and grace for all you are and all that you do. Is it pride? Is it a longing to be attractive in appearance, well-liked, respected, or anything that takes the place of God’s purpose in our hearts. This is something we all struggle with because we are flesh and must battle it daily. We must surrender our hearts and its intentions to be fully separated from idols of this world, and the idols of our hearts, to be fit for the Master’s use. If we ask God, He will show us what we need to change. We can then be prepared to be used by Him like never before.
3. Study the menu (know what you believe and why you believe it).
When I was being trained as a food server, I had to learn the menu and even taste things on it so that I could accurately describe and suggest products to my customers. First, I smelled the mouth watering aromas of the marinara sauce and the seafood platter. I tasted the delicious soups, and some not so delicious sauces that were on the menu. I was personally accountable to my boss to know the entire menu and to be equipped to effectively communicate it to the customer. Knowing the products made my job easier. I did not have to pretend that I knew what I was talking about, nor did I have to be insecure in my position.
2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” This command from God is not only for the pastor, missionary or evangelist, it is also for every born again believer. It is for the stay-at-home mother. It is for the teenager who is still in high school. It is for the person who grew up in a Christian home and is unsure of the “Why’s” of what they believe. We will give an account to God one day for how much we learned about Him through our time spent in the Bible, what we learned, and if we biblically applied it to our life. We must take personal responsibility to know what we believe and why we believe it based upon Scripture. Are we serving God in a lackadaisical manner? Are we on auto pilot drifting on the coattails of our parent’s, husband, or another person’s faith? If so, let’s change it.
Have you ever been discipled? Would you be willing to go through a biblical discipleship program to learn the doctrines of the faith? God has equipped us with everything we need to serve Him. We have the truth in God’s Word so that we will not be ashamed when someone asks us why we believe what we believe. We must take our faith further than explaining the plan of salvation, or than dressing right, attending church, and all the do’s and the do not’s…these are all wonderful things, and we should do them in obedience. As equally important as the outward action is the inward obedience as our hearts surrender to God’s commands. Our heart has to be into it in order to be in complete obedience. An outward compliance to biblical commands does not create a heart to serve. A heart to serve God completely comes from a full surrender of self-will to God’s sovereign truth. We are living in a world when one asks why we do these things, the answer is, “That’s what my church does, or that’s what my family does,” just won’t cut it. In fact, what this world needs are servants of God who are not ashamed to, with boldness and grace, explain the truth’s and freedoms we have through Jesus Christ.
4. Model after your trainer, Jesus Christ.
When I was learning how to be a food server, I had another, more experienced food server teach me. Typically, the trainer followed all the rules and guidelines set by the company. At first, I just watched, but as I gained experience, I was able to serve a group of people from start to finish without help.
In the Christian life, Jesus Christ is our ultimate example and “trainer” for all we are, and for all we do. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus is our ultimate example of a perfect servant. We are to follow His example of inward and outward, complete obedience. You may say this is impossible because Jesus is perfect and we are not, and still struggle with sin; however, we must remember that Jesus gave us His Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. We do not have to try to live the Christian life and serve Him through our own strength. We become more like Christ each time we yield to one of His truths. This is why it is so important to know Bible doctrine. Essentially we go through the process of yielding and submitting to His truths and the Holy Spirit’s conviction, or we reject it and stunt our growth and effectiveness as a servant. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We are look to Jesus! I appreciate the people in my life who have allowed God to work through them to reach me and influence me for the cause of Christ; however, I must work on not looking to a person or a place as my example, because eventually they will fail. As followers, we must look to and respect our biblical examples as they follow Christ. We are looking at Christ through them as they point us to Him. The more we follow Christ’s example, the more we catch His heart. The closer we draw to God, the more we become like Him. What is on God’s heart? How do we know if we have a servant’s heart like Jesus? Philippians 2:4 says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” If we have a heart to serve like Christ, we will have a heart not only to serve Him, but also a heart to serve others.
5. Stay focused on Who you are serving and don’t get distracted.
In the restaurant industry, there are “secret shoppers” that may come in and be waited on. They are not in any special clothing, and they want to remain anonymous so they can rate the quality of food and service at an establishment. I waited on a secret shopper on several occasions, and for the most part I performed very well. However, there was one time a report came back showing my serving skills to be lacking. When I asked my manager why I came up short he said that it was stated on the report, “Food server was distracted and failed to accommodate the needs and desires of the customer.” Wow, that was rough! It was hard to admit that I had failed in this area. I mean, I must have been busy. I’m sure that the hostess must have double sat my tables. I’m sure I wasn’t feeling good that day. I am positive that I had to clean the cooler while waiting my tables, and that’s why I wasn’t able to perform well. In reality, no excuse would suffice. It was my fault that I was too distracted to offer my best services to such an important person.
Isn’t it even more true when we look at serving God? In the Christian life we have all these tables in our section. Perhaps one table has people’s opinions sitting at it. Maybe another table has our pride, and beside it is a table of our own life’s goals and ambitions. Sure enough, next to it is a table of other people’s expectations for us. Sometimes as we serve, we get so busy servicing that we get distracted from the only One whom we should be concerned about, Jesus Christ. What if Jesus came and sat down and was just waiting for us to wait on Him, would we notice Him? Would we want to obey His every desire, or would we be too busy? Would we say, just a minute, a minute that would turn into years as we try to find a convenient time in our lives to give Him our all? Will it only be when we stand before Him, alone, face to face, at the judgement seat, that we will notice Him? Matthew 25:21 says, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Will the words we hear our Saviour say to us be these words? My heart longs to hear these words one day. When I lose focus, this comes to mind and I am convicted. Will it matter how many people approve of our life, how much money we make or how prestigious our possessions and professions? No, none of that will matter. It will only matter if we served Christ as we should, in sincerity and truth.
1 Chronicles 28:9 admonishes, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.” We only have one life. Let’s use it serving our Saviour Jesus Christ from the heart.
As one song writer wrote…
There’s surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth’s harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor thro’ life’s short day
For Jesus, the Crucified;
So, trusting my all to Thy tender care,
And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain, or plain, or sea.
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord.
I’ll be what You want me to be.
A heart to serve is a heart of surrender. Pray that God would give you this kind of heart and He will.
Missionary wife to South Africa