You were created to serve God.1 God has uniquely created and shaped each individual for service in His kingdom. He created us with certain good works or tasks in mind. Bruce Wilkinson, author of Secrets of the Vine, stated that God created each individual with a job in mind, so God gave that individual strengths to fit that job and weaknesses that do not. He created us for good works, and He saved us so that we might serve Him.
The words service and ministry are synonyms.2 Each person has a role to play in God’s kingdom—paid or unpaid, big or small, up front or behind the scenes. The role or ministry God gives us to fulfill provides purpose and meaning to our lives while reflecting the love and nature of Christ to others. Each person’s service is needed in the body of Christ, and no role is insignificant. Are you serving? If not, what is holding you back from serving God?
SHAPED TO SERVE
We have been shaped to serve. In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren used the acrostic SHAPE to show how individuals are shaped by God for service to God. SHAPE stands for spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences. 3
Spiritual gifts are just that – gifts. When we place our faith and trust in Jesus and become Christians, the Holy Spirit imparts life to us and gives us gifts for service. The Spirit does this in every believer. “As each of us has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s grace” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV). The biblical passages that discuss spiritual gifts are 1 Cor. 12-14,
Rom. 12:1-16, 1 Peter 4:9-11, and Eph. 4:1-16. Various gift assessments list differing gifts and may or may not include the following gifts: leadership, administration, service and helps, giving, hospitality, mercy, evangelism, prophecy, teaching, shepherding, faith, discernment, knowledge and wisdom.
Heart represents many things. In the Bible, the word heart means the total person, not just one’s feelings. It includes one’s will, one’s dreams, thoughts, interests, hopes, and desires. Referring to service, the heart could be defined as passion. What are you passionate about? What do you love doing? If unsure, ask yourself the following questions: If you had all the money you’d ever need, what would you do? What would you help do or fix? Where or how would you serve others?
Abilities are the natural talents and gifts we have. Some are good at math, some with words. Some are athletic. Some are not. Whatever abilities and talents we have, they came from God and can be used in His service. Medical mission trips need doctors and dentists. Some mission trips call for musicians as well as construction workers. God gave us our abilities to use, not to build up treasures for ourselves but to help build His kingdom.
Personality is another part of a person’s SHAPE. Whether an introvert or extrovert, a thinker or feeler, task-oriented or people-oriented, you are not a mistake. You are a unique creation of an all-knowing God, reflecting Him. Serving according to the personality you have been given gives you more satisfaction and fulfillment. Some prefer to be behind the scenes at the sound board, while others prefer the microphone. Numerous personality tests are available and can help you discover your personality and help you find your place of service.
Experiences: This is the last component in the SHAPE model and it encompasses familial, spiritual, ministerial, painful, vocational, and educational experiences.4 No one has the same experiences or same combination of experiences. All types of experiences can be used to serve God and to serve others. Sometimes the most painful things are those which minister to others the most in their time of need.
Rick Warren wrote, “God wants to use you to make a difference in this world. He wants to work through you. What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you have lived, but how you lived.”5 God shaped each person to serve Him and to minister to others. He gifted each individual with natural abilities and spiritual gifts. He uses our experiences, personalities, and passions to fulfill His plans and purposes, to do good works, and to serve others.
Jesus is our model. He came to serve. As a Christian, or “little Christ” as the word means, we model our Savior when we serve others. We also experience genuine fulfillment because serving is what we were created, saved, and shaped to do. If you are a Christian and not serving, what’s keeping you from doing so? It’s your serve…
- Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life, published by Zondervan, 2002, page 228.
- Ibid. (Warren), page 229.
- Ibid., chapters 30 and 31 define and discuss a person’s SHAPE.
- Ibid., 246.
- Ibid., 233.