What to Expect When You Serve Others


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Church, youth group, our parents, even our school recommends that we serve others. It teaches us humility, selflessness, compassion, etc. etc. But, what should we expect when serving? This is something few are willing to discuss. See, it’s easy to walk into a soup kitchen, dole out a few meals for a couple hours and consider our work done. But, once we place someone else ahead of ourselves, a lot can happen.

Our society is oriented around “me,” so when we’re willing to place ourselves aside, people don’t know how to respond. Jesus knew people would be uncomfortable serving and being served. In fact, He experienced this lack of comfort himself when washing His disciples feet as depicted in John 13: 1-15. Through this scripture, we’re able to learn what serving others may actually entail.

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

John 13: 1-15

When We Serve Others, We Will Feel Push-Back

In verse six, Jesus comes to wash Simon Peter’s feet who questions what Jesus is about to do by saying, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Peter, who is uncomfortable with the Master serving the pupil, questions Jesus’ intentions and actions. Rather than accepting the offer, Peter pushes the idea aside.

When we serve, we will experience people in our community who question our motives. They will laugh at us or make fun of us for pursing such an activity. The people we’re trying to serve may also question our ability. It is difficult to continue to serve when feeling resistance from the world, but continue to demonstrate God’s intentions or speak His truth to those who do not understand.

When We Serve, Expect to Feel Rejection

Peter continues in verse eight by saying, “No, you shall never wash my feet.” Peter may sound very humble, understanding his position in comparison to that of the Lord, but by resisting Christ’s actions, Peter is rejecting the Lord’s service.

While offering ourselves in service, we’ll be rejected by others. Maybe an organization will reject us because we lack experience or aren’t yet the appropriate age. People may reject our serve out of embarrassment or pride because they don’t want to admit that they need what we have to

offer. When we’re rejected, we can trust that the Lord will work in the heart of those doing the rejecting, by showing them that He loves them and desires to demonstrate that love through our work.

When We Serve, Our Service Will be Accepted – With Modifications

Once Peter begins to understand the gravity in what the Lord is doing, he accepts Christ’s service, but with his own conditions. In verse nine, Peter proclaims, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

There will be many people who want to be served in a certain way. They may want to accept only a portion of what we offer, or they may expect more than what we’re able to give. They’re willing to receive our service, but feel the need to receive within their own terms. Though it may be easy to manipulate what we offer, we must trust that the Lord is providing the right amount for what is needed at the time.

When We Serve, We Will Be Able to Finish What We Set Out to Do

In the end, Jesus was able to wash Peter’s feet, along with all the other disciples’. This is what He set out to do. Yes, He had resistance; experienced rejection and Peter desired His service in a different manner than all the rest. But, His work was complete. Satisfaction can come in the completion of a task.

After We Serve Others, These Elements Are What We Expect or Would Like to See. 

Once you’re finished serving, step back and see what God did through you. You may expect to see lives changed, or your fruitfulness filling the hearts of those you impacted, but in reality, very little will have changed. That may seem disappointing, but it’s easy to expect more out of serving than what happens on the surface.

After we serve, we want to see satisfaction, we want to see understanding and we want to see improvement. These are human desires, and God may grant us these gifts. But, if we are truly setting our own expectations aside while serving, we won’t be disappointed if our service didn’t satisfy – because only Christ can satisfy. We won’t be hurt if our offering was misunderstood – only God can open the eyes and ears of those who seek Him. We won’t be frustrated by the lack of improvement – we’re unable to clean the heart of someone who is unwilling to seek God’s truth. Though these hardships may exist, they should not prevent us from serving. God is greater than any uncertainty we notice on the outside. He sees greatness in your service and delights in your willingness to set aside your own agenda to pursue the troubled and hurting.

We want to hear where you love to serve or what you love to do when you serve. Message us on social media and use the hashtag #niNeServes with an image of you actively serving. Let us know how God uses you when you serve as well. Although serving may be frustrating or disappointing at times, the Lord can and will use you in incredible ways and we want to share that joy with you!

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