1 Tim. 1:12-13
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has granted me strength and made me able for this, because He considered me faithful and trustworthy, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a shameful and outrageous and violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief.
Have you heard of the difference between “have to” and “get to”? I’ve spent a number of years working in the service industry, and I can say that attitude is a large part of how well the work goes. One of the more challenging positions I’ve held required handling frequent customer complaints. The job was not necessarily difficult but was definitely trying. Walking from desk to desk, however, one could tell that not everyone felt the same way. In the beginning, I was excited at the opportunity to help people. If asked what I do for a living, I might have answered by saying that I “get to” solve people’s problems. After some time in that position, excitement turned to dread. I likely would have answered the same question by saying that I “have to” solve people’s problems. This is the difference between obligation and privilege.
Today’s passage speaks specifically of the service of teaching in ministry, but that is not to say that the concept of feeling privileged to be called by God into some type of service cannot be applied to every type of service possible. Here is the thing. When God opens the door for us to serve others in any capacity, that open door is an opportunity. He is allowing us to partner with him in service. We are doing not our will but his will, and we are doing it not with our hearts but his heart. The attitude we should have when we are called into service is not one of obligation but one of privilege. God does not want to hear us talk about how we “have to” serve others. He wants to hear us talk about how we “get to” serve others. Service in the name of God is not a punishment but an honor. When we have the correct attitude, even the most arduous work can be joyous and fulfilling.
God has a laundry list of things that He would like his children to do on Earth to serve others, but we do not necessarily get to choose what we do. What we do know, however, is that God is able to perfectly place us where we need to be. Our calling to whatever service He has for us may be much different from what we would envision or desire. However, we must trust that He calls us to a particular service for a perfect purpose. When the almighty God asks us to help him with his work, we should recognize first and foremost that that is an honor. He does not need to use us to accomplish his purposes, but He wants to use us. He desires to partner with us in service, and we cannot see that as anything but a privilege. Father, thank You for the honor of calling us to work alongside You, and help us keep the correct attitude as we respond to the call.