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Motivations in Serving


“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

This verse was weighing heavily on my mind this past week. I found myself on the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico serving with several others of our church family as we partnered with Casas Por Cristo to build a home for a family in need. As the sun began to dip below the horizon, I looked around at the drying concrete, at the somewhat barren landscape around us, and this verse hit me between the eyes.

Rewind to just a few weeks ago. I was reading through Timothy Keller’s book, The Prodigal Prophet, as I was studying the book of Jonah. Throughout this study, time and time again I was struck by the idols that established Jonah’s heart and I was convicted of my own idols. And out of these convictions, there arose questions of motivation.

“Why do you do the things that you do?”

“Why do you serve others in the capacity that you do?”

“Is Jesus the Lord of your life or have you built up an idol that has taken His place?”

Like a pinwheel caught in the Kansas wind, these questions brought up a recurring cycle of me heading to the Word for answers which then cut to my heart as my own sinfulness and selfishness was exposed which then brought on more questions. On and on, the Lord graciously led me on this journey, never breaking me but always pointing me to the truth of His Word and my own shortcomings. And it’s with these thoughts and prayers and searching in mind that I headed down to Juarez to build a home. It was in that moment of seeing a new foundation being placed, in feeling the chill of the evening air blow hard across my cheeks, that the Lord was gracious to cut to the heart and point me towards His Word.

Christ is our motive for serving; the example of Christ is the litmus test by how we live and move and breathe. Jesus, God’s Son, came down to this earth and lived a humble life of service. God Himself puts on flesh, steps into our world, and lives in such a way that He serves others and gives His life as a ransom for many. Christians, “little Christs,” are called to follow in those steps. By God’s perfect Word and by His Holy Spirit, our sinful motivations and imperfections are stripped away in a gracious and loving, although not entirely unpainful at times, manner that we might be increasingly transformed in His likeness and image. And so we serve because Christ first served. And we love because Christ first loved us. And we offer up our lives as a ransom for others because Christ has laid the foundation for us to follow in His likeness.

For some, that serving will take place in a cross-cultural context far away from your place of residence. For some, serving will come as you graciously labor away day in and day out, preparing dinner for your family as you seek to raise disciples in your home. Others will serve by using their gifts to lead others before the throne in corporate worship while some will partner with families, serving them through their work in children’s and student ministry. This post has less to do with the “how” of serving (although I’d highly recommend you consider Riverlawn’s annual Casas Por Cristo trip every fall) and more to do with the “why”? Why do we serve? We serve out of our identity in Christ. We serve out of the strength of His power and might. We serve out of the example that He set before us. Our foundation for serving is because of who Christ is and what He has done, namely serving rather than being served and giving His life for many that we build the walls, we hang the drywall, we insulate the home for the mission of disciple-making. So seek Christ, search the Word to root out any impure or deceitful motives, and step into serving.

1 Comment

  • Judy Goetzinger says:

    Josh, just wanted to say thank you for writing these. The years I went to Mexico to help with the houses were so rewarding to me. Just seeing how they live down there, then the joy you see in the families faces when they receive their new home is something that has remained in my mind. Keep sharing your thoughts. Judy Goetzinger

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