We all serve more effectively and efficiently if we are working in line with our giftings and passions. But even if you can’t find the ideal way to help doesn’t mean you should wait to serve in any capacity.
People often talk about finding the sweet-spot in service. It is that place where everything is just right for you. That is ideal, but it is difficult to find.
There are two dangers in ministry that we must all consider:
- Trying to force an opportunity to match our ability
- Neglecting good opportunities while waiting for the perfect one
Waiting Tables & Delivering Sermons
I often think of Stephen in the Book of Acts. The Bible contains his sermon on trial, one of the most concise summaries of the Bible and one of the most significant confrontations in history. He traces a thread throughout the Bible and then challenges the spiritual leaders of his day that they were following the same sinful pattern (Acts 7:51-53).
They heard the message, and so did Jesus. They attacked him, and Jesus rose to stand with him (Acts 7:56).
Why did I bring up his example in an article about sweet-spot ministry? Because Stephen wasn’t appointed as a preacher, the church had positioned him as a deacon (Acts 6:2-7). He was supposed to ensure some widows were getting daily provisions of food. It wasn’t a low-tiered job; it was a noble one.
Stephen could wait tables, but he apparently could preach even better.
I don’t want to speculate on Stephen’s mindset, but it is evident that God had provided him with gifts of preaching. He had an excellent understanding of the Word of God. And yet he didn’t turn down the opportunity to care for needy widows in his church family when the call was made.
A servant with a gift for preaching cared for others joyfully and utilized those gifts within his appointed context.
He didn’t wait on the perfect opportunity to utilize the gifts and passions God gave him. While he was in his deacon role, it was noted that Stephen was “full of grace and power…doing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).
I often wonder what would have happened if Stephen had said no to what the twelve asked him to do. “You know, I’d really like to serve in this way, but I think I’m gifted more like that.”
The Spirit of God was working through Stephen, and he didn’t wait on the perfect context to come off the bench. He used what God gave him in whatever opportunity was given to him.
Taking Opportunities & Staying Eager
What about you? What about me?
I’ve known the frustration of serving in circumstances that didn’t perfectly suit me. You probably do too. But do you know what I have realized through the years? Grinding out the ministry opportunities, even when they weren’t perfect, was God’s training ground to prepare for future and more suitable assignments.
You may not be prepared for the sweet spot of ministry if you can’t stay faithful to the opportunities you’ve been given now.
Take the opportunities that you have. Stay eager for the ones you feel like you were designed to do.
Suppose I am hiring for a position on a church staff or trying to fill a volunteer position in a vital ministry. In that case, I’d much rather enlist a candidate who has been faithful even if the opportunities have not been ideal. I marvel at how often I get resumes of seminary-trained theologians who wouldn’t lift a finger to lead in children’s ministry at their church because they were waiting to inherit that perfect ministry gig.
Some will never get the ideal gig because they are unwilling to commit to the imperfect ones.
Don’t get me wrong – you don’t need to serve long-term outside your giftings. I want every person in the Body of Christ in a sweet spot where their gifts and passions align with the opportunities. But when we can’t find it, let’s stay faithful to use those gifts in the contexts where God has placed us.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.