You’ve heard it said: In life there are two groups of people—givers and takers. The titles are self explanatory: givers invest, and takers seek to be invested in.

Every Christian should be a giver, but those in the ministry should especially be givers. We should be investing our lives in others.

Jesus is, of course, the ultimate example of a giver:

For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.—Mark 10:45

We know we should be givers, but how can we determine if we are givers? Here are three questions you might ask yourself:

1. Do I have a spirit of expectation?

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.—Philippians 2:21

Ministry to people is full of blessings. But if I am serving because of what I hope to receive—whether that be material (a salary raise) or emotional (validation or thanks from those I serve)—I will be continually disappointed.

Expectations come in so many shapes and sizes. They can relate to my ego (and no ministry can meet all the ego needs of its staff), ministry opportunities, titles, team members, and a hundred other variables.

If you are in ministry of any kind, avoid a spirit of expectation. It never pays, and it turns you into a taker. Serve to glorify the Lord and meet others’ needs—not to meet your own needs.

2. Am I dead to self?

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.—Galatians 2:20

Without a daily, conscious decision to die to self, I become the center of my life, and ministry becomes about me.

Yet, as an undershepherd of the flock, I am called to serve—not to be served. I’m called to give—not take. To love—not to look for love.

I appreciate a quote by John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace,” along these lines:

… if two angels in heaven were given assignments by God at the same time, one of them to go and rule over the greatest nation on earth and the other to go sweep the streets of the dirtiest village, each angel would be completely indifferent as to which one got which assignment. It simply wouldn’t matter to them. Why? Because the real joy lies in being obedient to God. For a Christ follower, the important thing isn’t what God has us doing; the important thing is that we’re doing what God wants us to do.

In God’s service, no task is of menial significance—unless we think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Like Paul, we must determine, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).

3. Do I avail myself to serve as a lifestyle?

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.—2 Corinthians 12:15

If you haven’t noticed, the ministry isn’t a 9:00–5:00 job. It’s not a career. It’s a lifestyle.

It’s a decision to pour yourself into those God has called you…well, to serve. It’s a decision to expend your energy and invest your life in others—first your family, and then others. It’s a decision to seek other’s growth rather than our comfort.

Serving in the local church is a tremendous privilege. We get to invest in the body of Christ—the organization which Christ purchased with His blood.

This privilege is worthy of our full, whole-hearted investment. May we give as we serve, rather than take. Which are you—a giver or a taker? 

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