A Simple Rule of Life – #4 Serve Joyfully

I mentioned a simple 5-part Rule of Life in a sermon (which you can watch here).
Several people emailed me asking for the list again, so I thought I’d offer a short
blog series, sharing how each helped to change my life. You can find the past
installments linked below, and as always, I’d love to hear your experiences in the
comments below!

1. Pray daily – click here
2. Worship weekly – click here
3. Learn constantly – click here
4. Serve joyfully
5. Give generously

#4 SERVE JOYFULLY – There are lots of ways to serve, the key to this fourth
practice is to find a way to serve that’s joyful! That is, find a way to serve that fits
your gifts and your passions and helps you to thrive and flourish. I will never forget the very first ministry I signed up for when I joined the church. I attended the “ministry fair” in the hopes of finding a way to give back to the church which had given me so much.

The first ministry I signed up for was the very first table I stopped at – Docents.
The person staffing the table was charming and said they had a real need and that I
would be perfect! So I gave it a try. The ministry of the docents was to keep the
doors of the Cathedral open during the week and welcome visitors, answer any
questions they might have, and offer a tour. Well as it turns out, there were
actually very few visitors on Saturdays (as the church was downtown) and those
who did come in, weren’t interested in talking to anyone so much as they simply
wanted a quiet place to sit and pray, or perhaps light a candle. I soon realized it
was a lovely ministry for someone who likes solitude! As a reasonably extroverted
person forced to sit around alone for 2 hours on my only day off, I was bored out of my mind!
I share that story because it’s a perfect example for me as to why it’s helpful to
serve joyfully! It’s important to offer our gifts in a way that actually uses our gifts. The
apostle Paul uses the metaphor of the “Body of Christ” to remind us that we all have gifts and we each
have a unique role to play, but that it’s also important to know our gifts and not
try to be a square peg in a round hole. (Or as Paul says in his
first letter to the Corinthians, “And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye,
I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.)

For me, being someone who enjoys conversation and meeting new people, I was
much more suited – and much happier — to serve as a Greeter on Sundays and
the Stewardship Committee (which were essentially the party throwers at the
Cathedral!) There my gift for gab and my interest in connecting with people and
hearing their stories could flourish and so did I. In fact, it was my work with the
Greeters and Stewardship that led the Dean of the Cathedral to invite me to
join the staff. It was work that never felt like work!

In his book, Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner famously wrote that the place
God calls us to is the place where our deep joy meets the world’s deep need. So
the key to this practice of serving joyfully is to know yourself and the gifts God
gave you and find out where they are needed. What do you love to do? What is
your personal style? Are you extroverted or introverted? Do you like to work in
groups or on your own? Do you have special skills or talents you like to share?
Have you survived particular challenges or hardships in the past that have given you
the empathy needed to ministry to others going through similar experiences?
The list goes on and on.

Of course, that is not to say that serving out of your giftedness won’t be
challenging or difficult at times. In fact, it may very well be some of the hardest
work you ever take on. The difference is, when you serve in a way that lets your
gifts sing and lets you be most fully you, you’ll find a sense of profound fulfillment
and purpose that can only come from God.

It’s one of my great passions to help people find that intersection. Take our online
Time & Talent Survey or take a look at some of our many ministries (here) and
then let’s get together for coffee and let’s see where you might try to find your
place in the Body of Christ. (Email Rev. Chris Harris at

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