What is Service? What is the Point? 3 Types of Service

By Lacey Bloom

As a kid in Sunday school I was taught that we humans were created to serve God, serve each other, and serve creation. But what is service? What’s the point? Until recently, I’d never stopped to think what service does for me.

Easy Service: Doing What I Love

When I work in the garden and tenderly care for the critters that live in it, I feel God’s pleasure.

Digging, raking, hauling, planting - it can be grueling, hot work but I love it!  My joy expands when I get to “tend to the Garden” in service to others: growing food for the hungry, wielding a shovel for an elderly gardener, or pitching in with the church landscape team.

I call this easy service because I’m doing what I love. It is all pleasure.

When I was younger I thought that if I enjoyed doing it then it didn’t count as service. But that is just not true; it’s fun and good to use our God given talents and passions in service to God and others. Easy service is worthwhile service.

Obedience Service: Saying Yes When I Really Want to Say No

I checked the thesaurus, though, and serving is not a synonym for fun. Sometimes service is fun, but sometimes it is nothing short of sheer obedience.

Of all services or needs of the church, nursery duty is at the bottom of the list for me. I have limited skills for that task and there is no joy in it. Keeping nursery is pure obedience service for me.

Just because obedience service isn’t fun it doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. Deep soul stuff happens when I submit myself to it. If the nursery is quiet (and even more so if it isn’t), I can almost hear creaking and grinding noises arising from my soul and my will as they reluctantly turn toward God in obedience. We are commanded to serve the needy, the unseen, and the vulnerable, and a poopy diaper is not a disqualifier. I don’t have to like it but I do have to do it.   

“Not my will but yours Lord!” is the rallying cry for obedience service.  

(Don’t saint me yet. I only keep the nursery during Sunday school when a month has five Sundays, which is occurs 4-5 times a year, and half the time no babies show up.  And, I didn’t volunteer but was asked to serve…but I did say yes when I wanted to say no.) (You should consider sainting my husband who serves in nursery with me. He dreads it, but he, too, said yes when he really, really wanted to say no.)

Self-Serving Service: Attitude Adjustment

Does your daily routine occasionally feel tedious or burdensome? Is your compassion or creativity lacking? Are you a little burned out in your spiritual life?  

When I’m so irritable that I annoy myself, I can’t write a decent sentence, or my prayers are stale, I’ve discovered that a few hours or a few days of service will set me straight. 

A simple act of writing a letter to a missionary can transform me from sourpuss to sanguine in a snap. I don’t know why that is but I do know that God designed us to serve, and so maybe things like emotional health, flowing creativity, and warm spiritual devotion hinge on me living up to my God-given design as one who serves.  Maybe we must serve to be healthy and happy…

Whether it is easy service, obedience service, or self-serving service, when I serve, I align myself with God’s pleasure, God’s will, and God’s design. This is good and right to do, obviously. So why don’t I do more of it?