Summary: God has given each of us gifts so that we might use them to bring Him glory and to bless the lives of those around us.
Are You Eager To Serve?
Tom Jackson and Chris Johnson were both members of the same church. Tom and his family had joined the church when they moved into the neighborhood and began searching for a new church home. Tom and Serena had three kids who were in school at the time. The kids were busy in extracurricular activities at school that kept the family going several nights a week. Their schedules were jammed packed with "things to do," but Tom and Serena had both been raised in Christian homes where going to church was never an option - it was as much a part of their lives as breathing and eating three meals a day. They remembered how important the church had been to both of them when they were young and they wanted their children to have the same memories.
Tom was a deacon at New Hope and Serena worked with the children's ministry, visited the sick and shut-in, and attended the Women's Bible study on Thursday nights. When they first got involved they found great joy in helping others. They were excited about being asked to serve and they were enthusiastic to volunteer even with their hectic schedules.
Along the way something changed for Tom. As time rocked along Tom began to be overburdened with the family's hectic schedule and his responsibilities as a deacon. Tom seemed to lose his joy and as a result what before were viewed as opportunities to serve now was now seen as the drudgery of having to be a deacon. Whenever the pastor would call and ask Tom if he could visit someone who was going through a rough time Tom would do as he was asked, but there was no longer any sense of being used for God's glory. He began to mumble under his breath about how some of the other men never did anything but show up for church. He would rush in to serve where he was asked and then rush out at the same pace.
Serena didn't understand what was going on in Tom's life, but she saw a definite change in his attitude. She would pray for Tom and try to talk with him about the change, but Tom was unresponsive. He just wanted to finish his term as a deacon so he could disappear into the background.
The change of heart that Tom experienced was noticeable to everyone at the church. It had been evident that Tom was gifted for ministry, but his gifts were nothing in comparison to his heart. Now that his heart wasn't in it, it was evident that Tom was preoccupied and uneasy with his responsibilities at the church. Tom's friendliness turned cold, his openness turned inward so that he was viewed as standoffish, and his passion for God turned passive. As a result many folks whom God led into Tom's life were seen as burdens.
Tom's trouble was the trouble with many of us today. Tom found himself in a new church. He got caught up in the excitement of new surroundings, new friends, and new ministries. In his excitement he dove in head first, never giving consideration to what God was leading him to do. Because Tom's commitment was based on emotion his enthusiasm turned sour, opportunities became burdens, and eventually he faded into non-existence.
Now I want you to meet Tom's friends, Chris and Leah. Chris and Leah were old friends of Tom and Serena. Their family sat on the same pew with Tom and Serena's family each Sunday. They were in the same Bible study together and their children attended the same school. Chris was a quiet kind of guy who had never really had much interest in the things of God. He and Leah went to church, but if the truth were to be known if was more for the kids than anything else. Then one day he found himself in trouble. He had never been a good money manager, but he made a decent living and with Leah's job they got by. Chris and Leah would discuss money matters quite frequently, about once every two weeks as a matter of fact. Whenever they would get paid they would talk about how they were going deeper and deeper in debt. They cut back on going out to eat, they sold one of their cars so that they could get rid of some of their debt, and they put their kids in public school to decrease their monthly expenditures. Even with all of the cuts they still found their credit card debt growing because of medical bills, the growing needs of their children who were now teenagers, and needs around the house that constantly confronted them.
One day their creditors came knocking. The bills came due. Chris and Leah had no savings to fall back on, they did not come from wealthy families who could bail them out, and they were being pressured to pay up now or pay the price. They sought advice and the outcome was that they filed for bankruptcy. During their bankruptcy proceedings they were encouraged to see a financial counselor. They were given a name and phone number and as they walked out of the courtroom Chris had never felt so humiliated or depressed in his life. Would they ever recover? Was their name and character forever marred?