There’s little that is more fulfilling than to serve God. Humans thrive when they are part of something significant that’s bigger than themselves. And what could be more significant and bigger than the kingdom of God? And in finding your place to serve, remember that your biggest calling may not be in church.
You may be feeling divine discontent, stirred by a sense that there’s more, that you are not yet fulfilling all God has asked you to do. Many sincere followers of Jesus struggle with this, and that’s a good thing. You know what Jesus said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) And you feel like there are definitely things you need “added to you.”
Seeking the kingdom of God is more than church, and the “all these things” does not primarily refer to your comfort. Remember the early followers of Jesus; they experienced much trouble, and Jesus promised we will too. (See John 16:33) This is all about something much bigger than you!
So how do you know where to serve in God’s kingdom? What is it you are to seek first?
God’s Kingdom, Not Yours
The first thing to note is that we’re talking about God’s kingdom, not yours.
Sometimes people have embraced a distorted picture of this. “God’s kingdom” becomes “my kingdom.” You can become much more concerned about your own influence, status, bank account, or power. Some Christian leaders have made it all about themselves. And you can fall into the same trap regardless of what “level” you are serving at.
Level Five Leadership was a concept developed by Jim Collins in Good to Great. The extraordinary leaders who rise to this level have an insatiable hunger for the good of the cause or institution they serve, and at the same time a great level of personal humility. Leadership is not about them.
And it’s not about you.
In serving God you can be a Level Five leader regardless of whether you are serving your spouse and children, a neighborhood group, a small group at church, a business, a church institution, a government agency, or anywhere. The passion, energy, and skills with which you serve mean you will need to invest all of you. And your humility means you care about the good of others and the results for God’s kingdom more than you do about yourself.
Yes, you exercise great self-care and always seek to improve your skills and grow your influence. But you do it primarily for a greater purpose, so that your inner foundation remains strong and you can sustain over the long term. The underlying Why makes all the difference in the world.
The Church and Beyond
We’ve already hinted at this. When you are seeking to serve God’s kingdom your biggest calling may or may not be in church. Jesus said “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18). And it’s important to remember that it’s His church, not ours, not some human leader’s. Some church leaders get big heads and start to think “their” church belongs to them. How tragic!
But Jesus didn’t tell His followers, “Go into all the world and build churches” or “make church members.” He said, “Go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:18) – followers of Jesus. That commission holds for every single believer, whether your role is directly in the institutional church or not.
Churches as we know them in our culture, and other Christian institutions such as schools, publishing houses, and media programs, are vital. But they do not comprise the kingdom of God. It’s not about our Christian consumerism, or spectator worship services. It’s about God’s rule and reign in every aspect of our life.
So, what does following Jesus look like where you live and work? What would it mean for the kingdom of God to permeate your school, your retail or digital or manufacturing business, your media production, your government work, your services agency? How would Jesus carry Himself if He were in your family, your job, your role?
Your influence and impact for the kingdom of God may potentially be much greater if your role is not in a Christian church or institution. We are told to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) God’s design is that His rule and reign be experienced in every dimension of human experience.
And He uses you to move that forward.
God’s Plan, Not Yours
If that seems heavy or “too big,” remember that you don’t have to come up with the plan, or make it happen. Frankly, God is not obligated to bless anything that He does not initiate. If you and I try to figure out what we want to do, and then after the fact ask God to bless it, we may be disappointed.
But when God Himself initiates, He makes Himself responsible for the outcome. Consider Moses. He didn’t hold a retreat to figure out what to do about freeing the children of Israel from bondage. God was doing something, and He invited Moses to be a key player in that endeavor. God initiated. It was God’s plan. And He made Himself responsible for the outcome.
So, no need to trouble yourself in trying to come up with something significant to do for God. A much healthier way to proceed is to pray;
Lord, what are You doing? Where are You moving? And what do You want me to do in working with You?
God doesn’t usually show you the whole thing. But He does invite you to join Him in something He is doing, and to take the next step. And He has been using all the parts of your life that He has brought you through up to now to build you to be the person He needs you to be in fulfilling that exact role.
Your Turn: Do you sense a stirring in your soul to do something significant for God’s kingdom? Can you sense some way He has prepared you to step into something He is doing, perhaps not in church? Leave a comment below.
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