Author Stephen Covey once wrote, “We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.” Looking back at all my past and current struggles with servanthood, I realized several key assumptions were shaping my view of serving:
Assumption 1: Servanthood (in general) is optional.
By my definition, serving was at best an optional hardship – it is just what “good Christians” do. I thought that I had the choice to serve God or not. If I felt like it, or if someone was watching me, then maybe I would help. If I was going to be inconvenienced or I did not particularly like the person or job, well then I probably wouldn’t serve. It was my choice to serve or not.
Assumption 2: Serving is my stepping stone to leadership
Another false assumption is that servanthood is merely a springboard for leadership. I served in order to gain attention from church leaders, so they would see my works and evaluate me for some position of leadership. I saw serving as a way to advance my ambitions, my agenda. Serving others was purely a means to develop me as a leader.
Assumption 3: Serving is way to manage God
If not the most disturbing, then definitely the most grievous, supposition about serving was the notion that through serving I could manage God. Like the volume knob on a car stereo, serving was a way I could adjust God’s opinion about me. Having a bad week? No problem, just do a little serving and God will like me again once he sees how hard I’m serving. Who needs bowling, when I can serve coffee to win back God’s favor? I wanted to make God manageable by setting the exchange rate equal to one sin equals one act of service. I attempted to manage God’s opinion of me by atoning for my sin with serving. It was much easier than to having to face and work on my problems.
Assumption 4: Serving is about how I can use my gifts
One of the most recurring assumptions I had was treating serving others as if it was all about actually serving me. I thought that goal of servanthood was found in the maturation and expression of my spiritual gifts. I would motivate myself to service because it would develop my talent for administration or encouragement. “Well,” I reasoned, “This would be a good way for me to step out and work on my hospitality gift.” Serving was seldom driven by the needs of others or for the glory of God. Mostly, it was for the needs and glory of me.
Assumption 5: Serving is about my enjoyment
A close cousin to the previous assumption is that serving is about our enjoyment. I am much quicker to serve if I am going to have fun. In fact, having fun was often a key decision factor that determined whether I served or not. Will my friends be there? Will I have fun doing it? If both answers weren’t yes, I would find a decent excuse to get out of the situation.
What assumptions do you have?