Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Paradox of Service

I'll be honest, I sit around altogether too much. I've been doing better lately (or at least it seems that way) as I've been busy working on school, taking care of errands, and trying to keep myself in some sort of decent shape. One thing I don't do enough of at this point is serving others. Serving can take a ton of different forms, and occur in numerous settings, but it can be difficult for me to find things that I "can fit in my schedule" and that I really want to do.

Both of those excuses are matters of the heart. As many wise people have said,
If you want to know where someone's priorities are, look at where they spend their time.
Another similar proverb says the same, but substitutes money for time. Both are equally true. Look at someone's calendar or checkbook and it is easy to see what he or she values.

That's not the main topic I want to address now though. In considering what types of service I should be doing, all kinds of past sermons and lessons come flooding back. Most of these seem to center on one of two things:
  1. You should be focusing on serving where your gifts will be used to the fullest.
  2. Here are some causes that need help, and you should help them even if it makes you uncomfortable.
The problem is that these can contradict each other in many situations.

For me personally, certain areas of service are highly unappealing. A lot of situations make me uncomfortable, regardless of whether that feeling is rational or not. Service opportunities that involve a lot of person to person contact make me cringe. It's not that I don't want to help people, it's just a part of who I am. (More on this in a moment.)

On the other hand, service opportunities that let me be more "behind the scenes" are great. I was blessed to take part in my Church's stewardship committee for several months, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I love donating money and other resources when I have them available. These types of "safe service" are essential, and they get me excited.

So the question I'm left with is, "Is that enough?" Is it enough to remain behind the scenes instead of going out onto the front lines of service? Is it ok to look at a potential need and come to the conclusion that someone else is probably a better fit for that specific situation, so I'll leave it to them, while focusing on the things that I do best?

The answer is certainly somewhere between the two, but it's something I struggle with a lot. Stretching ourselves is vital, but so is using our gifts to the best of our abilities. Maybe the key is to focus on service that takes advantages of our strengths, occasionally make an effort to take on a challenge that we know will make us uncomfortable, and allow our focus to evolve as those challenges open new opportunities for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment