Have you ever felt like you were too young to serve? Do you ever feel that you have no important part in the Church? Do you think of adults as the only people who serve at Church? Regrettably, some young people feel this way.
Jesus Christ said that He came so that His followers (of all ages) “may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
American King James Version×). Christ’s followers are to live full and abundant lives. Does serving have anything to do with living this “abundant life”? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Love = service to others. The key to understanding how to live the “abundant life” is knowing the two great commandments—”love the LORD your God” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39 Matthew 22:37-39 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×). These two laws (which sum up God’s Ten Commandments) are the backbone of true Christian living.
But how do these laws transfer into an abundant way of life? The basic answer is that God’s laws equal love. Love, in turn, means that we are focused on others more than ourselves. To do this, we must have the heart of a servant—focusing on raising others to their highest potential and making life easier and more pleasant for them. This way of living has been described as the way of “give” versus “get.” God created us and knows that His way will truly make us happy and fulfilled now, and will have never-ending rewards in the future.
With these principles in mind, we could define service as: Giving your time and energy to God by helping and caring for others out of genuine love and concern for them.
How young people can serve. But how can a young person serve? Should we go out and join the Peace Corps or move to Calcutta and feed starving children?
We find the answer in Galatians 6:10 Galatians 6:10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
American King James Version×: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” A Christian’s main area of concern should be serving within the Church. Though it is commendable to get involved with serving the world in various ways, our energies should first be focused on helping and serving those whom God has called to be firstfruits in this age. Christ tells us that Christians will be judged on how they served His “brethren” (Matthew 25:40 Matthew 25:40And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
American King James Version×). In Matthew 12:48-50 Matthew 12:48-50 48 But he answered and said to him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brothers? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
American King James Version×, we see that Christ’s brethren are those who obey God.
Many congregations find the average age of their membership rising. This means that service opportunities definitely exist for the younger generation! So how can young people prepare to serve?
1. See God’s Church for what it is. There may be some who think of the Church as a social club—a place to have fun and hang out with their friends. They don’t see it as much more than an activity center.
While Church activities are a wonderful blessing, we must not think of the Church as merely a place to attend activities. Those who see the Church as merely a social club may end up leaving the Church when they are older or when the activities decrease. So what is the Church?
2. The Church is an organization of people. Since God doesn’t supernaturally do every job within the Church, He works through physical human beings. God provides the instructions and the help but lets the people do the work! The apostle Paul referred to members in the Philippian congregation as those who “labored” and “fellow workers” (Philippians 4:3 Philippians 4:3And I entreat you also, true yoke fellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.
American King James Version×).
Some young people may think they are too young to do physical service for the Church. This is understandable—but definitely not true! All through the Bible we see examples of young people serving God in various ways.
3. Ask to serve! If you have a desire to be more involved in the Church, the first step is to ask for a responsibility. Tell your pastor that you would like to become more actively involved at Church and ask for an opportunity to serve. Most pastors will be happy to find something for you to do.
In my local congregation, I started serving on our local audiovisual crew when I was about 16 and am now responsible for the video recording of church services at our congregation. Other young people take care of the stage setup. They are at services early every week to do that.
4. Service isn’t for status. Some people may think that you need a “position” or “title” to serve. If we serve just to get “status” or a “title,” then we are serving with the wrong attitude.
This was a shortcoming of the Zebedee family. Mrs. Zebedee asked that her sons (James and John) have official positions at Christ’s right and left hand in the Kingdom (Matthew 20:21 Matthew 20:21And he said to her, What will you? She said to him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on your right hand, and the other on the left, in your kingdom.
American King James Version×). Christ corrected them saying, “The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them … Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (verses 25-26). Jesus does not say it is wrong to “desire to be great.” He tells us that greatness is measured by how we serve.
5. Service is rewarding. Some think of service as something they have to do, so they help others grudgingly. If we are truly service-minded people, this won’t be our attitude.
People who have served others know that serving gives a fulfillment that can rarely be experienced anywhere else. Teens and young adults who serve as staff at preteen camps experience this firsthand as they talk to the kids on their level, escort children to the bathroom in the middle of the night or even clean up the mess of a sick camper. Although these things aren’t typically described as fun, the staff comes back year after year! VT