What do you think of when you hear the word "serve" in the context of ministry? What often comes to mind is the local church. Being an usher, a Sunday school teacher, a parking lot attendant, a worship leader, a deacon and so on. Outside of the local church we think of online ministries with blogs or music, traveling event speakers, book authors, prison ministries, etc.
That type of service is good and grounded in Scripture, to be sure; but I think of Jesus when He washed the feet of His disciples.
John 13:12-17 (NIV) says:
“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Washing their feet was a menial, ordinary task. Serving Christ doesn’t have to be organized, flashy or even appreciated to be honorable to God.
Washing the disciples' feet was an act of service because of the benefit it brought to the disciples and the heart with which Jesus did it - to honor and help them.
I remember when I used to get frustrated because doing the household chores took more time than I wanted when I could have been doing “ministry work,” like writing a song, preparing to lead worship, or getting my lesson ready for my women’s Bible study group.
But then I realized that making dinner, doing laundry and going through the mail IS ministry work…I’m serving my family. It’s “menial” and "ordinary” but every bit as honorable as the more organized ministry work I do.
Realizing this helped me pace myself better and be more intentional about those tasks. I stopped seeing them as a hindrance, stopped trying to hurry through them, and started seeing them as part of my ministry, part of serving others.
I do not in any way minimize the importance of organized ministry. There are innumerable examples of this in the Bible that we are to follow. But let’s also remember to live a life of servanthood in the every day, “menial” and “ordinary” tasks, too.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Col. 3:17 (NIV)