Written By Jessica Lim, Singapore
I have been serving as a volunteer at a children’s home for the past 10 months. Recently, its leadership underwent a reshuffle that saw changes to the program as well as to the roles played by volunteers. Uncertain about how the changes would pan out, I struggled with whether I should continue serving there. On one hand, I felt uncomfortable about the inevitable adjustments I would have to make. On the other, after months of guiding the youth and growing together with them, I was attached to them. Unsure of what decision I should take, I turned to God for direction.
As I was reflecting and praying about the matter, God brought to my mind memories of the very day He called me to serve in the home. Recalling the purpose He had for me, I was reminded of what service is all about, through four simple questions.
1. Is my heart aligned to God’s?
One of the very first questions I had asked myself before deciding to serve as a volunteer in the home was: Am I serving God’s purpose, or my own? Sometimes, some of us may have selfish reasons for serving, conscious or not. These include the desire to feel wanted or important, or to get a sense of satisfaction from an achievement. Perhaps we might even think about using our service to barter with God to have a desire fulfilled. This would make us no different from the Pharisees who did good in order to glorify themselves. I was reminded that the purpose of serving is to glorify God and to show love for others. Serving should stem from a heart of gratitude and thankfulness for all the things that God has given to me.
2. Am I serving out of convenience?
Another question I’ve considered is: Am I serving only because the terms of service are in my favor or are convenient for me? Will I simply bolt when the terms are not to my liking, or require me to sacrifice something I’m not prepared to give up? It is easy to serve when we don’t have much to give up; the struggle comes in when we have to give up more than we are willing to. I could calculate the costs and weigh the pros and cons, but ultimately, I had to be prepared to serve at the expense of my convenience or preferences.
3. Am I committed to persevering?
Am I prepared to persevere in the face of challenges while serving, knowing that God is molding me through the process? The best example of someone who persevered is Jesus Himself: On the Mount of Olives, He prayed for God to take away the impending suffering if it was possible, but that God’s will should be done and not His. Despite the anguish He experienced, Jesus went to the cross bravely to fulfil God’s will and to save us from our sins. As Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
4. Am I keeping God’s purpose alive?
One thing I’ve realized in serving is that the initial passion I have to serve God usually fades after a while and is replaced by a sense of obligation. But God has reminded me of the need to give time to purposeful reflection and meditation on His word to fan this passion. This is especially important when times get tough and I lose sight of why I started serving in the first place.
At the same time, as I considered these four questions, I was also reminded that serving faithfully didn’t mean that I had to remain in one area of service permanently; God sometimes calls people to move to different areas of ministry. But as I considered moving, I knew that I needed to discern if the desire to move came from God, or from a distracted and tired heart.
Well, as for my final decision—it eventually became clear to me that it was not God’s timing for me to move out of the home. The passion I had to serve the youths there still remained, despite all the changes the home had undergone. If I were to quit just because the program changes were not to my liking, it would mean that I was placing my preferences before God’s, and that I was not trusting God to help me with the uncomfortable adjustments I needed to make.
So I have decided to commit to God and trust that He will provide me with the ability to overcome all the struggles and adjustments. After all, if it is in accordance with His will, I believe that He will give me the strength to persevere.