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Motivation for Sacrificial Ministry

Motivation for Sacrificial Ministry

The uncreated, eternal, perfect, and holy God is a servant. That’s right, Jesus Christ – the second person of the Trinity – “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Recently I have been reading in the gospel of Mark in the mornings at home, and I’ve been struck by this verse again. Not only is this one attribute that could easily be missed as we consider the glorious perfection of God, but this verse reminds us that this is one of God’s great redemptive purposes in sending his Son to earth – to gloriously display in stark contrast to all other false God’s that we could construe in our minds, that He is a servant God! What a God we serve.

As I’ve meditated on this verse, and as our church staff discussed it a few weeks ago, it struck me that there are a dozen bad ways to motivate each other to serve in the church.

Bad Means of Motivation

Here are five bad means of motivation: guilt or shame, anger, manipulation, and intimidation. Yikes! I know. We’d never use those means, right? Well, maybe you can remember the last time to were trying to get a toddler (or that sweet little niece or nephew you were babysitting) to do what you wanted them to do – “maybe just a dash of manipulation will do” (we think). Really, it doesn’t produce what we want – glad-hearted obedience and participation. It only makes things worse.

Better Means of Motivation

But, there is a better motivation for ministry. Bringing glory to Christ who came to serve, and to give his life for sinners like us. Whether you are struggling to serve your lost neighbors with zeal and passion, or the lost kids who fill your Sunday school classes each week (chances are – your church needs your help in this area.[1]), you need to fix your eyes on your serving Savior – we will never want to serve for Christ, until we are gripped with the reality that we were served by Christ, in order to make us servants.

Getting Practical

In their helpful book, “The Compelling Community”, Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop outline some practical and creative ways to love and serve others in the church, that flow from the sacrificial love of Christ toward us:

  • “We can sacrifice our comfort to reach out and associate with someone whom we're not naturally drawn to. For a small example: when you see two different people you might talk to after a church service, make sure that at least half the time you walk up to the one you're less comfortable with.
  • We can sacrifice our preferences: what kind of food we eat at the fellowship event; which songs we wish the church sang more often. Romans 12:10 says: "Love one another with brotherly affection."
  • We can sacrifice our resources and time to serve fellow church members in need, even when society would deem their time less valuable than ours. First John 3:18 says: "Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." Consider the corporate lawyer billing a thousand dollars an hour, lingering patiently over lunch with her shopkeeper sister who (for the third time now) needs to hear the same advice.
  • We can sacrifice our habits to spend time with those with whom we'd otherwise never see. If you're someone who always plans your schedule two months out, spontaneously go to lunch after church with someone who’s different from you.”
  • I’ll add one as well. We can sacrifice with our family, and for our (church) family. If you have a family, I don’t mean to ditch and neglect your family to merely attend church events. Your immediate family matters. They need you. True. Also, your church family needs you to help invest in and disciple their family members as well. We are called to “do good…to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:10). After all, churches are made up of people, and people belong to families, and believers are “fellow citizens…saints and members of the household of God.” (Gal. 6:10). Don’t forget to serve The Family, that Jesus bought with his own blood (Acts 20:29).

When we consider the sacrificial life and mission of Christ to save unworthy sinners like us, there is a mountain of motivation for us to live loving, sacrificial, lives for the sake of Christ and for his people.

Excel still more, church! (cf. 1 Thess. 5:10)



[1] Announcement: if you are reading this message, your church needs you to serve in Children’s ministry. Please contact your church office, and they’ll connect you with the next available Children’s Ministry Director. Seriously.