I have to admit it right up front: I am MADLY in love with my local church family. Unashamedly, unabashedly, irrevocably, MADLY in love with The Moody Church family. And one of the many things that "evokes" my love with this great congregation is the privilege I have to "serve" among them as we seek to love Christ to the very best of our abilities, individually and corporately. Some of the very finest people in the city of Chicago are in this "Moody Church family" of mine. I'll write more about them in another post, I'm sure.
But like every church, there is almost always a "shortage" of people serving in all the places where "people are needed." That FACT seems to be REAL in every congregation. And ours is no different.
When I returned to The Moody Church in November, 2005 (after a 3-year hiatus in another congregation), the first thing I wanted to do was find "places" to serve...to do whatever I can to further the kingdom of God, and the ministries of this local Body of Christ.
God has MORE than answered my prayers! I am always finding "things to do" and "ways to serve." I am so THANKFUL for these. Whether it is preparing food for the "Men's Fraternity" gathering on Thursday morning--meaning I have to be at the church not later than 5:15 a.m., or assisting the Music Department in getting the "food things" ready for their major productions three times a year, or setting up the Coffee/Tea/Water/Beverages Services for the Sunday Evening Gathering, so people will have something to "wet their whistle" before and during the worship gathering. I also serve in the Women's Ministries as the coordinator for all the "male volunteers" for luncheon functions and the like. It is my HIGH HONOR to 'serve" in this manner. Being involved in three or four SERVING activities every Sunday was nothing unusual for me at all....and it was beginning to take its toll on me. One of the pastoral team members refers to me as his "first-round draft pick" anytime there is a need for someone to "serve in the kitchen" or get "food items" ready for an event.
For some crazy reason when someone at the church needs something in the kitchen--or needs to know someone about the church kitchen--my name always seems to be in the mix...somewhere, and somehow. Betty (Crocker) and Martha (Stewart) and Paula (Deen) would be proud, I'm sure.
Last year (2009), I was so burned out from all the "serving", that I knew the LORD was leading me to take a three-month sabbatical from it all. My great friend (and pastor) Charles Butler was the first that I shared this "leading" with, since I wanted him to help me discern if this was God or just my own exhaustion. I remember calling him on April 1, 2009 and saying, "Pastor, I have decided that I am going to take June, July, and August OFF from all the extra-curricular stuff at the church. If it is already on my calendar as of today, I will honor that commitment. But NOTHING else is going on my calendar for those three months. I need a break."
"Yeah, well I'll believe it when I see it," replied one Pastor Charles Butler. So I made a pact with him. Every time someone asked me to "do something" at the church, I would run it by him first. I would be completely accountable to Pastor Charles concerning my "over-serving" and my sabbatical requirements. I fully intended to "not do any of the extra stuff" for three months.
From June 1, until August 30, 2009--I KEPT MY WORD. I turned down an average of 4 different requests every week for ministries at the local church needing "assistance" with an activity of some type. But I knew where my temporary boundaries were, and they were not to be compromised.
But August 30th, I was out in Lincoln Park organizing the "cooks" and the "grillmeisters" for the Church-wide picnic. The "four of us" (three other guys and myself) grilled enough hamburgers and hotdogs to feed more than 1800 people. Everyone moved through the line in less than ONE HOUR....this was a record time for these events. We were so happy.
But, I am grateful for the privilege of "serving." I learned many years ago that when I am "serving" that I must always offer my "gift of serving" to the LORD before I ever offer the "product of service" to those whom are being served. Whenever I am in the kitchen at the church, I want to remember that I am serving the LORD first and foremost. Then, I am serving His people to the very best of my ability.
This is a high honor and a tremendous privlege in my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything else.