In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, Debbie W. Wilson challenges us to think through our perspective on Christian service.
"I quit working for God," Debbie says. "I hope you will too."
On the surface, I (Dawn) think that's a jarring statement. Why would anyone quit working for God? Did I misunderstand? Isn't that a good thing?
Debbie continues . . .
How could a Christian worker make such a declaration?
Because, I found something better.
When we work for God we make mistakes. We bruise people in “Jesus’ name.” We become resentful, proud, and worn out. We may even hurt His kingdom instead of build it.
Don’t believe me? Check out these traits and biblical examples to see what I mean.
- Misguided: Moses thought he was working for God when he murdered an Egyptian taskmaster (Ex. 2:11-14).
- Working against God’s kingdom: Saul of Tarsus thought he was working for God when he was eager to kill and imprison Christians (Acts 9:1-4).
- Resentful: The hardworking son bitterly resented his father celebrating the return of the prodigal younger brother (Luke 15:11-32).
- Proud: The Pharisees and religious leaders believed their work for God put them in His inner circle (Luke 18:11).
How do those of us who love Jesus and want to serve Him quit working for Him?
We learn to work with Him.
Those who work for God ask Him to bless their ideas.
Those who work with God join Him in His plan. They look to Him for guidance and strength.
- Moses learned to rely on God. “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Ex. 33:15 ESV).
- Saul of Tarsus was transformed into the Apostle Paul who said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20 ESV.)
- Jesus who said, “No longer do I call you servants, …but I have called you friends” (John 15:15 ESV) also said “ I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).
I used to beat myself up when I failed to meet the expectations I put on myself. Now I believe my job is to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. That in no way translates into passivity. It means I believe Jesus is living and working in me.
I work with Him. He works through me.
When we serve God by working with Him, He gets the glory.
His plan, through His power, and in His time, builds His kingdom.
Who do you think makes a better ambassador for Christ, the one who works for God or the one who works with Him?
How to Start Working With God:
1. Ask God to show you where you have been striving to work for Him.
2. Admit your inadequacy and surrender your will and your way of doing things to Him.
3. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and to teach you how to rely on Him in every area of your life.
4. Thank Him for leading you. This demonstrates faith.
It takes practice, but I’m learning that staying in sync with my Lord is better than reaching my goals—even ministry goals.
Would you rather work for God or with Him?
Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. They, along with their two grown children and two standard poodles, enjoy calling North Carolina home. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.
Graphic adapted, courtesy of DodgertonSkillhouse, Morguefile.