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Serving Individually

  • What are your “spheres of influence”? How might you serve in the places where God has already rooted you—family, work, neighborhood, church family, school community, and so on. How might you cultivate a “ministry of presence” in those places?
  • Read In Service We Encounter God, a brief meditation by Henri Nouwen. Have you ever encountered God in a unique way while serving? What made that experience different from other service experiences?
  • Richard Foster writes about Self-Righteous Service versus True Service. Use the points in this article to conduct an honest “spiritual inventory” of your attitudes about service.
  • In a short but insightful blog post, Joseph Yoo makes an interesting distinction between volunteering and serving. He writes, “I volunteer when I want, for what I want, and however long I want. . . . Whereas I may volunteer because I want to, I serve because I need to. Volunteering may be a choice, but serving is a calling.” Spend some time thinking about where you feel God calling you to use your unique gifts and talents to serve others.
  • Begin your day with the Prayer of St. Francis, which reflects the heart of a servant.

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
    where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    where there is sadness, joy.

    O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
    to be consoled as to console,
    to be understood as to understand,
    to be loved as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive,
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

  • Try this experiment for one day or more. When someone calls your name, ask, “How may I serve you?” either aloud or silently. Then try to respond with a servant’s heart. Observe how this servant posture affects your mindset and your actions.