How Serving Passionately Will Transform Your Congregation

Do you serve your congregation passionately?
Do you serve your congregation passionately? (iStock photo )

Pastor, you were created by God to serve your congregation. What he told the prophet Jeremiah is also true for you: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you were born I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations" (Jer. 1:5, MEV).

God redeemed you so you could do his holy work. In God's kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role, and a function to fulfill, and this gives your life great significance and special value, no matter how discouraged you may feel right now. You are not God's child by this service, but as God's child you were created for this service.

The Bible says, "You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you." (1 Peter 2:9, GW) Anytime you use your God-given abilities to help others, you are fulfilling your calling. In some churches in China, they welcome new believers by saying — "Jesus now has a new pair of eyes with which to see, a new set of ears for listening, two new hands for which to help, and a new heart for loving others."

You're not only the eyes, ears, hands, and heart of Jesus among your congregation — you also have the crucial role of helping the people in your care to become the eyes, ears, hands, and heart of Jesus.

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Your leadership is desperately needed in the body of Christ, and no matter where you serve, it is a critical outpost for advancing God's kingdom. Each of us has a role to play, and every role is important. There is no small or insignificant service to God; it all matters.

Likewise, there are no insignificant ministries in the body of Christ. Some are visible and some are behind the scenes, but all are valuable. Small or hidden ministries often make the biggest difference.

Let me illustrate it this way — in my home, the most important light is not the large chandelier in our dining room but the little night light that keeps me from stubbing my toe when I get up at night. There is no correlation between size and significance. Your ministry matters because it matters to God, and you are crucial to the body of Christ because we're all dependent on each other.

Jesus taught that we should maintain an attitude of service no different from his own, for the Messiah "did not come to be served, but to serve and to give [his] life." Jesus came "to serve" and "to give" — and those two verbs should define your life on earth, too.

Jesus taught that spiritual maturity is never an end in itself, rather maturity is for ministry! In the same way, your position as pastor should never become an end in itself — as if you have arrived — rather it is a heavenly calling to wash the feet of those around you, serving those in your congregation and your community at large.

We grow up in Christ in order to give out. It is not enough to keep learning more and more about the Bible or the latest church growth technique — certainly these are good things — but we must act on what we know and practice what we claim to believe. Some of us know the streets of ancient Jerusalem better than we know the streets of our own hometown, and that's an indicator that we're out of balance when it comes to serving those around us.

Study without service leads to spiritual stagnation. The old comparison between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea is still true: Galilee is a lake full of life because it takes in water but also gives it out; in contrast, nothing lives in the Dead Sea because, with no outflow, the lake has stagnated.

Can you see the logic of God's intent? If you want greater spiritual maturity and wisdom, you need to be pouring what you already know into the lives of others! Why would God pour more maturity and wisdom into a stagnate reservoir?

Following the same thought, the last thing many believers need is to go to another Bible study; they already know far more than they are putting into practice. What they need are opportunities to serve — where they can exercise their spiritual muscles. Your example will teach the members of your congregation to shift from an attitude of "serve us" to "service." You'll teach them to no longer say, "I want a church that meets my needs and blesses me." Instead, they'll learn to say, "I want a place to serve and be a blessing."

You are a blessing as you serve your congregation, and even though they may not see all the things you do as their pastor, God does — and He is pleased to have you as His eyes, ears, hands, and heart.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Pastor Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

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