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Updated: 4/26/2012

What I've learned about life from my teachers about why service and ministry are important:

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Pastor Rick Warren...If we’re going to be used for God’s purposes, we have to focus our lives. The Bible compares life to a marathon, and that means we have to simplify our lives.

The Bible says, “So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1b TEV).

This means we should remove anything from our lives that would get in the way and hold us back. If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. He’ll even keep you so busy doing good things that you won’t have time for the best things.

That’s why the Bible tells you to simplify your life. You have to get rid of the unnecessary baggage in life. Don’t try to do it all. Do what matters most. A serious runner focuses on the race.

I’ve heard people say, “I would love to live my life for God’s purpose, but I just don’t have time.” The reason they don’t have time is they haven’t taken the time to simplify their life.

There are all sorts of things that can keep us from simplifying our lives. How do any of the following distract you and keep you from simplifying your life?

1. Trying to be like others instead of being who God created you to be
2. Trying to make everybody happy
3. Trying to meet the arbitrary expectations of others
4. Too many hobbies or too much time with a hobby
5. Social media, movies, or television
6. The wrong kinds of relationships
7. The mistakes of your past

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Pastor Rick Warren...Did you know that Jesus shows up in your life all the time? The Bible says he's around you all the time; his spirit is there but you don't recognize him.  He shows up in other people and what they say to you. He shows up in opportunities. He shows up in problems. He shows up in difficulties, but you don't know it because you are not paying attention.

Actually, this is really common. It happens in the Bible. People fail to recognize Jesus.  For instance, Jesus once asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. Not knowing who Jesus is, she engages him in a religious debate. Jesus says, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” (John 4:10 NLT)

This happens to us. We don't recognize Jesus when he's around us. The Bible says he's always near, but we don't listen. We don't tune in to his presence.  Here’s why we need to pay attention to Jesus. He will focus us on the things that are truly important and that will change the way we handle every relationship, task, and circumstance in our lives.

When you learn to live in light of eternity, your values change. You use your time and money more wisely. You place a higher premium on relationships and character instead of fame or wealth or achievements or even fun. Your priorities are reordered. Keeping up with trends, fashions, and popular values just doesn’t matter as much anymore.
The apostle Paul said, “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” (Philippians 3:7 NLT)

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Pastor Rick Warren...Your destiny has eternal significance. And it will impact the eternal destiny of other people, so it's more important than any job, achievement, or goal you will reach during your life on earth.
The consequences of your mission will last forever; the consequences of your job will not. Nothing else you do will ever matter as much as helping people establish an eternal relationship with God.

This is why you must be urgent about knowing your destiny and completing your mission.  Jesus said, "All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end." (John 9:4 NLT)

Get started on your mission of reaching out to others now! We will have all of eternity to celebrate with those we have brought to Jesus, but we only have our lifetime in which to reach them.

This does not mean you should quit your job to become a full-time evangelist. God wants you to share the Good News where you are. As a student, mother, preschool teacher, salesman, or manager or whatever you do, you should continually look for people God places in your path with whom you can share the gospel.

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Rick Warren..."God…has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 TEV) These “good deeds” are your service to the world. Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God. (Colossians 3:23-24; Matthew 25:34-45; Ephesians 6:7)

For Christians, service is not something to be tacked onto our schedules if we can spare the time. It is the heart of Christian life. Jesus came “to serve” and “to give”—and those two verbs should define your life on earth, too.

Anytime you use your God-given abilities to help others, you are fulfilling your calling. The Bible says, “Now you belong to him . . . in order that you might be useful in the service of God.” (Romans 7:4 TEV)

You were put on earth to make a contribution. You weren’t created just to consume resources—to eat, breath, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life. You were created to add to life on earth, not just take from it. God wants you to give something back and to serve others unselfishly.

What God told Jeremiah is also true for you: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.” (Jeremiah 1:5 NCV)

When most people think of this “special work,” they think of pastors, priests, and professional clergy, but God says every member of his family is to minister. In the Bible, the words servant and minister are synonyms, as are service and ministry. If you are a Christian, you are a minister, and when you’re serving, you’re ministering. God has a ministry for you in his church and a mission for you in the world.

Remind yourself at the start of every day that you are God’s servant so that interruptions won’t frustrate you as much.  Your agenda will be whatever God wants to bring into your life. Servants see interruptions as divine appointments for ministry and are happy for the opportunity to practice serving.

Faithful servants never retire. They serve faithfully as long as they’re alive. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.

"Servants do every task with equal dedication. Whatever they do, servants "do it with all their heart" (Colossians 3:23 NIV).

Great opportunities often disguise themselves in small tasks. The little things in life determine the big things. Don't look for great tasks to do for God. Just do the not-so-great stuff, and God will assign you whatever he wants you to do.

God wants to use you to make a difference in his world. He wants to work through you. What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived.

There will always be more people willing to do "great" things for God than there are people willing to do the little things. The race to be a leader is crowded, but the field is wide open for those willing to be servants. 

Begin by looking for small tasks that no one else wants to do. Do these little things as if they were great things, because God is watching.

Sometimes you serve upward to those in authority, and sometimes you serve downward to those in need. Either way, you develop a servant's heart when you're willing to do anything needed.
The greatest use of your life is to invest it in something that will outlast it.

Christians are not saved by good works, but they are saved for good works. Ephesians 2:8-10 could not be clearer: We are saved by grace alone through faith in order to accomplish the good works for which God saved us. Our ongoing works, carried out for God, become a sign and testimony of the reality of our salvation. A person saved by grace stops working for self and begins working for God.

Christ's work on the cross removed any necessity of our works for salvation. Our works are an expression of gratitude for His.

Peter Drucker pointed out that the best and most dedicated people are ultimately volunteers, for they have the opportunity to do something else with their lives.

John Wesley was an incredible servant of God. His motto was: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can."

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Rick Warren...Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Colossians 3:23 (TEV)

Our work can be an act of worship to God. In fact, if I want God to bless my finances, I must make my work an act of worship.

What does this mean? I'm saying that no matter what you do - sweeping the streets, running a corporation or the work of a stay-at-home mom -- your job is more than a job. The Bible says while you are here on earth, you should use your work as an act of worship.
This means whatever you do, you are to do it with enthusiasm. If your heart is not in it, you are in the wrong job. If you are not working with all your heart, you are sinning.  I didn't say that, the Bible says it.
Why work with all your heart? Because you are working "as though you were working for the Lord and not for people." God is our salary and supply. He is also our 'boss'. There may be someone who is your supervisor, but you are really serving a higher authority. No matter what I do, if it is to prepare a meal, if it is to sign an invoice, if it is to do an analysis, if it is to close a deal, if it is to make a sale, if it is to make delivery -- whatever it is, I am to do it as if I'm doing it for God, and so it becomes an act of worship.

Martin Luther, the man who sparked the Protestant Reformation, said you can milk cows to the glory of God.  You can clean toilets to the glory of God.  Why? It's your attitude that says, 'God I'm doing it as if I'm doing it for you.' For instance, Let's say you make beds in a hotel; you are probably going to make them nicer if you think, 'I'm doing this as if Jesus were going to sleep in this bed'.

If you begin working as though you are doing it for the Lord and not for people, the way you work will change.

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Pastor Rick Warren...I believe that God put you here on earth for a purpose. God has given you a special SHAPE – Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences – that He wants you to use for His glory.

Just like the servant in Matthew 25:23, I hope God says to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

Meditate on the following verses about God's call to service in our lives. Pray over them and ask God to reveal new ways you can give yourself in service to those around you.

"Give yourselves completely to God - every part of you ... you want to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for his good purposes." (Romans 6:13b LB)  "My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus - the work of telling others the good news about God's wonderful kindness and love." (Acts 20:24 NLT)

"Only those who give away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the good news will ever know what it means to really live." (Mark 8:35 LB)  You will never enjoy life fully - the way God intended for you to live it - until you learn it's not about you. So go, and live a life of service.

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Rick Warren...A man's heart reflects the man. Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

The Bible uses the term "heart" to describe the bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections that you have. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations -- what you love to do and what you care about most.

When you were growing up you may have discovered that you were intensely interested in some subjects that no one else in your family cared about.

Those interests come from? They came from God! God had a purpose in giving you these inborn interests. Your emotional heartbeat is a key to understanding your shape for service. Don't ignore your interests; consider how they might be used for God's glory. There is a reason that you love to do these things.

Listen for inner promptings that can point to the ministry God intends for you to have.

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Greg Laurie...You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.1 Peter 2:5

In the church, every person is a brick. We are living stones placed in the church, each with gifts that God has given to us to contribute toward the work of the church. How are you doing your part in the church today?

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Rick Warren...Your hands shaped me and made me. Job 10:8 (NIV)

God formed every creature on this planet with a special area of expertise. Some animals run, some hop, some swim, some burrow, and some fly. Each has a particular role to play based on the way they were shaped by God. The same is true with humans. Each of us was uniquely designed, or "shaped" to do certain things.

Before architects design any new building they first ask, "What will be its purpose? How will it be used?" The intended function always determines the form of the building.

Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.

The Bible says, "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works" (Ephesians 2:10, NIV). Our English word "poem" comes from this Greek word translated "workmanship." You're God's hand-crafted work of art. You're a custom designed, one-of-a kind, original masterpiece.

God deliberately shaped and formed you to serve him in a way that makes your ministry unique. He carefully mixed the DNA recipe that created you. David praised God for this incredible personal attention to detail God gave in designing each of us: "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous" (Psalm 139:13-14, NLT).

Not only did God shape you before your birth, he planned every day of your life to support his shaping process. David continues, "Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Psalm 139:16, NLT).

This means nothing that happens in your life is insignificant. God uses all of it to mold you for your ministry to others, and shape you for your service to him.

God never wastes anything. He would not give you abilities, interests, talents, gifts, personality, and life experiences unless he intended to use them for his glory. By identifying and understanding these factors you can discover God's will for your life.

The Bible says you are "wonderfully complex." You're a combination of many different factors: "The people I have shaped for myself will broadcast my praises." (Isaiah 43:21, NJB)

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Greg Laurie...Sometimes, we think the most dedicated Christians are pastors or missionaries. And they are dedicated. But you can serve God and glorify Him wherever He has called you.

There are a lot of ways in which we can glorify God with the various abilities that He gives us. In fact, I think that if you are a hardworking, honest person who has integrity, then you are a rarity in today's culture. People will stand up and take notice.

I believe that if you do work hard, and if you are diligent, then you will get promoted. You will receive greater opportunities. People will want to know what motivates you and where you find your joy, even on Monday mornings.

We are encouraged in 1 Corinthians, "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (10:31 NKJV), and "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (6:19 NKJV).

When we seek to fulfill the purpose for which God has created us—to glorify Him, to honor Him, and to bring Him pleasure—then we will find happiness. It doesn't come from seeking it, but from seeking Him. Our life is found in proper balance.

As the Scripture says, "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" (Psalm 144:15 NKJV). We must never lose sight of the simple truth that we were created primarily to glorify God—not simply to pursue our own aims, goals, and desires. Rather, we were created to glorify God.

Real servants maintain a low profile. Servants don't promote or call attention to themselves. Instead of acting to impress and dressing for success, they "put on the apron of humility, to serve one another" (1 Peter 5:5 TEV).

If recognized for their service, they humbly accept it but don't allow notoriety to distract them from their work. Paul exposed a kind of service that appears to be spiritual but is really just a put-on, a show, an act to get attention. He called it "eyeservice," serving in order to impress people with how spiritual we are (Ephesians 6:6 KJV; Colossians 3:22 KJV).

This was a sin of the Pharisees. They turned helping others, giving, and even prayer into a performance for others. Jesus hated this attitude and warned, "When you do good deeds, don't try to show off. If you do, you won't get a reward from your Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:1 CEV).

Self-promotion and servanthood don't mix. Real servants don't serve for the approval or applause of others. They live for an audience of One. As Paul said, "If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

Unfortunately, many leaders today start off as servants but end up as celebrities. They become addicted to attention, unaware that always being in the spotlight blinds you.

You may be serving in obscurity in some small place, feeling unknown and unappreciated. Listen: God put you where you are for a purpose! He has every hair on your head numbered, and he knows your address.

By the way, faithful servants never retire. They serve faithfully as long as they're alive. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.

John Wesley was an incredible servant of God. His motto was: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can."

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Acts of Service
(Examples of Washing feet)(John 13:1-17)
- Any necessary, beneficial service
Any menial service
Any voluntary act motivated by love
- Any task someone else could have done
- Gracious ministry to the undeserving
- Meeting a need no one else is willing to meet
- Any task usually not appearing to be "spiritual" or "significant"

Five Crowns awarded to believers   From Our Daily Bread Insight
"As Christians, we can expect to be rewarded for our faith and faithfulness.  Five crowns can be won:  the 'imperishable crown' (1 Cor. 9:25), the 'crown of righteousness' (2 Tim. 4:8), the 'crown of rejoicing' (1 Thess. 2:19), the 'crown of glory' (1 Peter 5:4), and the 'crown of life' (James 1:12)."

Leaders Matter...Everyone Matters from Pete Briscoe  There are 10 kinds of leaders.  Probably no one has all the traits necessary.  But of those traits you have, concentrate on what you can do and surround yourself with others who have the remaining needed skills.  This is what Nehemiah did as laid out in Nehemiah 7 Nehemiah surrounded himself with protectors, singers, priests and overseers to make up for what he could not do.  Everyone matters to God in building His kingdom.

Obstacles during Ministry     During our ministry, we are sure to receive criticism just like Nehemiah and his workers endured during the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem.  Read Nehemiah 4.

When criticized, consider the source and respond accordingly.
1. From Outsiders - ignore it.
2. From Insiders - Listen, glean and adapt as necessary.
3  From Owners - Follow input carefully.  Equal to our own input.

Christ-centered Workplace  Read Colossians 3:22-4:1.  65% of our awake lives are spent in the workplace. Here are ways to make this most rewarding...Your Attitude:  Obey in everything (uninterrupted submission), do work with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.  Your Master:  Whatever you do, do it as if for the Lord.  This requires total commitment.  Your Meaning:  #1 reason to work is recognition for contributions to something significant.  People don't quit companies, they quit their boss.  Bosses should always appreciate, influence and love their people.

Pleasing God vs. Trusting God  Hebrews 11:1-7
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Flesh (I can take care of it), Fear (I can't handle it) and Philosophy (I simply believe it) keep us from having total faith.  "God measures us by the degree of trust we exhibit, not what the flesh produces.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  Romans 8:8.  Our attitude should be trust God in us so we can please God.

A Jabez Life  1 Chronicles 4:9-10
Jabez's mother named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain."  Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!  Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain."  And God granted his request.

Pray that God will bless us with a purpose, give us power to stay in focus, Christian community and plentiful resources.  Pray that he would enlarge our territory, help us reach the lost, letdown and looking.  Pray that God's power and Holy Spirit be with us and that he keep us from harm and protect us from Satan.

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Pastor Pete Briscoe...
Read Nehemiah 1:1-7 for six key points about how God calls you for your own unique mission as he did Nehemiah:
1) Think about where God has placed you.
2) Realize God calls you on normal days when you are doing normal things.
3) Ask questions about things close to your heart.
4) Listen carefully for the brokenness.
5) Allow yourself to feel what God feels.
6) Ask God to use you to intervene.