In worship on church service this past Monday, I was struggling to understand the mindset of the worship and heart of the sermon, and what God was calling us to, and then I got it. It was a new and unfamiliar mindset to me.
I have considered myself a bit weak on the servant redemptive gift (which I call S2, or the 2nd gift of Romans 12, and associate with the color orange,) I think because I like to be strong in ways that I feel (perhaps incorrectly) are antithetical.
I greatly admire those who somehow have endless motivation to serve others, to day after day fill some need of the day.
I, on the other hand, like to feel I am getting a good return on my time, and doing something of long-term value, so I gravitate to tasks that are done once and have a lasting effect, or establish some vision or knowledge for people to repeatedly take. Doing one-off tasks for people seems like the antithesis of this, and therefore something I usually feel repulsed by.
However, on this night, I understood the heart of a servant in a new way, and I realize it is much easier and more enjoyable to have a heart of a servant than I thought.
Expressive vs Receptive Terminology
I am still struggling to find good words for this, but the task-oriented mindset of getting something done and moving on to the next seems to be a more masculine one (or kingly, or yang, or expressive.) In contrast, the presence-oriented mindset of wanting to just be with someone for the sake of being seems to be more feminine (or priestly, yin, or receptive.) I usually don’t want to bring the complications of gender in, so I prefer the terms expressive and receptive.
Service and the Receptive One’s Initiative
For the heart of the servant to serve another, it seems to require initiative on behalf of the one who is receptive to the other’s being.
The initiative cannot be on the one who needs the service, or else the “servant” would not be operating in the gift of service, but simply be a slave, or hiree in a cold and mechanical transaction. The heart and gift of the servant would simply not be present when the service is initiated.
Of course, after the service is initiated, the slave can still choose to love the master and take on the heart of a servant (as is commanded by the Bible,) but it is better when the service is voluntary. We are not God’s slaves, and God waits for us to serve Him.
God is big and powerful, but to allow the chance for relationship and fellowship, He makes room for us by wooing us, speaking softly, and inviting us to relationship (including worship.) Even if He commands us to love and worship, He does not force the fruits of love and worship upon us (closeness with Him) — He waits on us to receive Him.
How a Servant Gives of Self, Giving One’s Presence
How does the servant give of herself (or himself) to God, in love? It is setting aside the task-oriented accomplishing, the selfish ambition (not that all ambition is selfish,) and just being with God, giving of one’s own presence.
Giving one’s presence and being to another is the chief joy of the servant. The being is the joy; any doing that happens to be going on by either party is secondary.
We ask for God’s presence to be with us, but do we realize how much He enjoys our presence?
As the servant presides with God, if there are things that need to be done, the servant simply sees them and naturally wants to see them done.
Living in the joy of presence with another, it is natural to find motivation to get things done on behalf of the other. The expenditure of energy and effort to get those things done is a secondary outflow of the primary drive to just share presence with God.
Not Serving is Tantamount to Distancing Ourselves from God
Looking at it from the other side, to say “that is too much work to do that to see that need filled,” is to put distance between us and God.
If we are enjoying God’s presence, because we love Him, this is not going to be our reaction when we see a desire in God or need in Christ’s body.
Since doing is secondary and being is primary for the servant, the joy from being willfully present with God will naturally outweigh fleshly comfort of not expending effort.
The Servant’s Unending Sacrificial Energy
This is why the servant appears to have unending energy to sacrifice in servitude on an unending series of tasks, without complaining or growing weary in heart motivation, even though they can still grow weary physically or emotionally at times: the chief joy is to be with another in wholeness of spirit, and that includes identifying with the desires and needs of the other.
To identify with the desires and needs of another is to love another as oneself: just as it is natural to fulfill one’s own needs, it becomes natural to do likewise for the other.
How to Serve Christ’s Body
Christ’s body with all its members (us) has many needs, and I believe the key to serving Christ’s body is to fall in love with Christ. This way, we will be receptive to what Christ cares about: “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
How to Fall in Love More?
We love God because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19.) I believe that is true in the context of us receiving salvation, but I also believe it is true in increasing measure on an ongoing basis in our lives.
Want to be a better servant? The answer is not more discipline, or more guilt for not serving enough, or for seeing needs unmet. The answer is to invite God to show more of His goodness and love in a way that will change us. Once we are enraptured by His love, loving Him back will be irresistible, and serving Him will be a small token of that love.
(As a bonus, we will not serve in partially or fully empty ways out of the obligation of our fleshly eyes, but out of a heart that is connected to Christ’s Spirit.)
It is one thing to love (and serve) from our reserves, because we like it.
It takes things to another level to invite God to expand our capacity to love. It will change us, and tear old wineskins in us, requiring new ones that are unfamiliar.
It takes courage to offer ourselves to God to be transformed into something we can’t anticipate or understand, but if we have fallen in love with God, we will have that courage, because we trust Him.
Establishing a Permanent Atmosphere for Courageous Love
It is also one thing to dabble with putting oneself on the altar, saying “ok God change me in the next 5 minutes,” seeing if anything dramatic happens and then going on our merry way, and it is another to stake out and establish an atmosphere where God can change us and has the permanent freedom with us to make us fall deeper and deeper in love with Him.
This was also going on Monday night, and I eventually recognized this as a mindset that I am not naturally in most of the time: the mindset of the Pacifier. This is another topic in itself! For more on this, see Part 2: A Lifestyle of Insisting God Has Our Serving Presence.