I had an incident recently at church where I really didn’t want to serve God. It didn’t have anything to do with God. I just found myself serving in a capacity where I felt ill-equipped. I found myself working with a demographic I don’t generally enjoy. And I found myself having a bad day in this act of service. So, I came home and told my husband, like any good child of God who is trying to get out of something, “I just don’t think I’m called to this ministry.”
The irony of this statement is that a few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to share a message from the pulpit on serving God. And in that message, I stressed that the act of service is in seeing a need and meeting it. But there I am, sitting in the passenger seat of our SUV while my kids watch VeggieTales, telling my husband that perhaps I’m not the right person to meet this particular need. Because I had a bad day.
My husband, who does a remarkable job of responding to my moods, just simply told me I couldn’t quit this ministry today. Not today. Today was a bad day, but that’s not a good reason to stop serving God. There will always be bad days.
And though I sometimes don’t love to admit this, he was right.
Imagine if Paul stopped serving God every time he had a bad day. Paul, who was regularly mocked, falsely accused, and imprisoned. Paul who authored much of the New Testament. Paul who established numerous churches and brought many to the knowledge of the Gospel, and then fathered and shepherded those people. What if on the day that some of the Corinthian church trash talked about how much better Apollos was than Paul, he decided the was done serving the Corinthians?
Based on his tone in 1 Corinthians, Paul was clearly annoyed with this church. I can imagine him venting to Timothy, “These people are so ungrateful and unloving and have no respect for the Word of God and those God has called to bring it to them.” And I think he was still a little annoyed when he penned the first letter to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 4:8, he says: “You think you already have everything you need. You think you are already rich. You have begun to reign in God’s kingdom without us!” It’s like disciplining a stubborn child who thinks they are so much wiser than the parent.
But Paul didn’t give up on them. And while he corrected them, he implored them to walk in love. And it is thanks to their unruly behavior that Paul penned 1 Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
So, I will keep serving in the place where I have been set until God or my leadership tells me it’s time to stop. And I will strive to serve in love.
If you had a bad day in service to God, don’t quit. Don’t give up. Not today. Keep serving, keep stepping out in love for the people you’re serving. Even if they’re ungrateful or rude. Even if you have better things to do. Even if you think you could make a greater impact elsewhere, wait for God to move you. Pray for those you’re serving. And serve in love. Love for those you serve here on earth, but more importantly, love for the one you’re serving in Heaven.
Let me add a disclaimer before you go: You can’t do everything. You can’t serve in every ministry and you can’t meet every need, so we do have to ask God to help us discern where we should serve him. This is something I sometimes struggle with as I want to help be the solution to problems, but I am not always the right or the best solution. Just don’t quit because you’re having a bad day.