Many well-intended Christians want to serve those who are hurting and in crisis.
Whether it’s signing up to feed the homeless, providing clothes and toiletries for abused women, or volunteering at a food bank – Christians are known for their acts of service.
But there’s one major mistake many Christians make while serving that could cause more harm than good – and here’s what it is.
To start, ask yourself the motive behind why you serve.
Are you doing it because you actually care about the ones you are helping?
Or is it more like checking off a good deed in order to feel good about yourself?
Let’s go even further.
Perhaps you genuinely want to help people… but become so focused on the work of serving – that you lose sight of the one you are actually helping.
For example, if a homeless man comes to a coat drive to get a coat – and starts to tell you his story – do you really hear him and take the time to listen…
… or do you just give him what he needs and send him on his way?
So much of service has become “transactional” – that we’re missing the relationship aspect of what our faith is all about.
When Jesus served those in the Bible – He always saw them – and took the time to minister to their greatest need.
Sure, the homeless man is cold and needs a coat – but he may need someone to listen to him and pray with him and tell him about Jesus even more.
And if we aren’t careful – we can become like the Pharisees, thinking we are “better” or more “elevated” than those we are helping.
So what can we do to prevent this from happening as we serve?
It’s simple – make sure when you interact with people, that it’s relational – not purely transactional.
All the organized tables, labels, and systems in the world don’t mean anything if you are treating people like a revolving door – simply focused on getting them in and getting them out.
While you might not have time to hear every single person’s story– we all have time to help those who come into our path – even if we think we are “so busy.”
And if we really feel we are “too busy” to listen to the cries and pain of another human being – then perhaps it’s time to get right with God and figure out where our priorities really are.
Ask God to show you ways you can help someone today.
Maybe it’s learning about your server at dinner – where she’s from, what her story is, viewing her as an actual person – not just the person serving your meal.
When you serve people with the true and relational love of Jesus – the authenticity and sincerity will come through – and people will leave your presence a little bit better than how they came – not because of you – but because of Jesus in you.
Do you agree there is a difference between serving someone through a lens of “transaction” vs. a relationship?
Next time you volunteer, will you commit to get to know the ones you are serving, and be open to how God can use you?
You can post your answers to our Facebook page and join in the conversation with other believers from all around the world.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-1717
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