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We humans don’t like to wait. Waiting makes us feel forgotten, tired and aging. The longer we wait, the harder it gets. There’s just nothing fun or rewarding about standing around wondering if we’re ever going to have a turn. Christians approach serving God with this same impatient mindset. We don’t like waiting for God to direct us because He takes too long to say anything. So instead we just decide for ourselves what He would have us do and we hop to it so that we can have a ready defense to that guilt-laden question “What are you doing for God?” No one wants to say “I’m waiting.” Waiting is interpreted as “nothing.” Those who wait are considered spiritual slackers and carnal cop outs. No one respects waiting. No one except God, that is.
A close look at the Bible will reveal a very disheartening pattern: all of God’s best guys waited. Noah waited 100 years for the flood. Abraham waited 25 years for Isaac. David waited at least 20 years to become king after he was anointed. Joshua and Caleb had to wait forty years in the wilderness before they could reach the Promised Land. So if we want to really be close to God—if we want Him to consider us one of His faithful few, then we’d better get ready to wait. Bummer.
God is more interested in strengthening His relationship with us than He is in getting our help. It’s no wonder we get a bit off track, what with guys like James saying that faith without works is dead. Then there is our own need to look at our lives and see visible evidence that we are being productive for God. We want fruits—we want to be able to tick off how many souls we’ve witnessed to and hear people telling us out loud how we’ve impacted their lives. It makes us feel emotionally good and spiritually affirmed that we’re doing it right. After all, service is an automatic in with God, right? He wouldn’t ever frown on ministry, would He? Well, yes, He would. God isn’t blessed when we serve ourselves in His Name. Unfortunately, that’s what many Christians are doing today.
Before we can really serve God well, we have to grasp this critical truth: in no way does God need our assistance in order to run His own universe. As long as we believe that we are some critical cog in helping God accomplish His master plan, we will be unable to serve Him with the right attitude.
Serving God is a humble honor. We can’t fully grasp this as long as we think He’s somehow dependent on us. We must realize that even if every soul simultaneously sat down in protest, God would accomplish all of His purposes with great ease, and the Gospel would be successfully spread throughout the earth. Our lips have no power to illuminate anyone. It is only God speaking through us which makes our testimony of any value. If we refuse to speak, His power is unhampered. If we refuse to obey, His plan is not threatened. We must grasp that we are totally incapable of adding anything to Him before we can fully appreciate the fact that He invites us to serve Him.
God is like a man walking down a path, speaking to souls on His way. He invites you to walk along with Him. It isn’t because He needs your help, it’s because He wants your company. If you agree to come, He’ll involve you in what He’s doing. Sometimes He’ll whisper words in your ears which you’ll repeat to a passing soul. But you never foolishly think He can’t speak on His own. Do you see what a different perspective this is? Do you see how it changes our motivation for serving God and how it prevents us from foolishly taking credit for the things He does through us?
God doesn’t need our help, nor does He ever ask for it. He merely invites us to come along with Him and take part in what He’s already doing. What He’s looking for is communion. What we’re looking for is rewards and end results. We get so distracted by our goals that we forget all about communion and we start bossing God about. We miss the whole point of why He invited us along in the first place and we start acting like we invited Him. But there is a cure for this: waiting. By forcing us to stop and wait, God changes our view of things to be more like His. He teaches us that serving Him isn’t about helping Him, it’s about loving Him and wanting to express that love by doing anything He asks.
There are two ways you can respond to God asking you to wait. You can choose the common road and pretend like you didn’t hear Him, going right on ahead with services that make you feel important and useful. Then you can spend your life laboring under the false assumption that God will shower you with gifts for all your grand efforts when you get to eternity. He won’t, of course, because you ran ahead of Him and ignored what He was asking you to do.
The other option is to take the road less traveled and offer God real obedience. This means you do what He wants simply because He wants it, regardless of how miserable it makes you. This is the only option that makes sense if you’re going to claim to be serving God. After all, a servant is supposed to obey his Master’s orders.
Understanding Why God Calls Us to Serve Him
Saving Souls & Changing Lives: Wrong Reasons to Go Into Ministry
Ministry Opportunities: When should you get involved?
How to Avoid Witnessing Burnout: It’s Not Your Job to Save the World