The Interests of Others: What I Learned from Three Weeks of Service

San Francisco, CA
Photo credit: Keoki Seu via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Gal. 5:13

Three weeks ago, I challenged myself to find three opportunities each week to serve others.  I had been allotting far too much focus on myself and my own pursuits and not nearly enough on God and others.  So, after studying Gal. 5:13’s teaching to use our freedom lovingly, not selfishly, I decided to serve—outside my typical routine—as a specific way to grow and to reach out to others.  I didn’t perfectly complete the challenge and I still have much to learn about finding and using opportunities to serve, but I undoubtedly grew.  Here is what I learned from the service challenge.

Serving became an attitude rather than a few actions.
Instead of completing three discrete acts of service each week, the challenge became much more fluid.  Honestly, I can’t list nine distinct acts that “completed” my goal.  Instead, the challenge helped me adopt a mindset of servitude.  It helped me to see a stack of dirty dishes not as a reason to be annoyed but as an opportunity to make my roommates’ stressful weeks a little easier.  Don’t get me wrong—I still get frustrated and I still miss opportunities to serve, but this challenge was a step toward a Christ-like, humble servant’s heart (Phil. 2:5-7).

I noticed when other people served me.
When I was actively searching for chances to serve others, I found it easier to recognize when others were serving me.  I knew I had supportive friends before I completed this challenge, but I now see much more clearly how kind others are to me.

One friend gave me an encouraging note.

Another bought me coffee.

Another gave me a ride home so I didn’t have to walk in the cold.

While I thought, “Wait—I am supposed to be serving you!” my friends were effortlessly finding ways to serve.  That speaks to the quality of my friends but also to the fact that pursuing a servant’s heart helped me appreciate when others showed kindness to me.

I was happier when I was serving.
Serving took my attention off my own pursuits and refocused it on the needs of others.  The service challenge helped me “look not only to [my] own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).  Completing this challenge was not a magic, life-altering cure to make me happy, but it reminded me that life is about more than crossing tasks off my to-do list.  

I grew closer to the people I was serving.
Serving is love in action, as the example of Dorcas teaches us.  Dorcas showed her love for others through her actions—she made clothes for the widows in her community—and she reaped the fruits of her service in closeness with her friends.  The widows’ grief after her death (Acts 9:39) shows how much they valued Dorcas’ presence and how they returned her love.  I found that the past three weeks have brought me closer to the people I served and those who served me.

We are constantly provided chances to serve, and this challenge helped me recognize some of my opportunities.  When we follow Christ’s example of service (Mat. 20:28, Phil. 2:4-7), we can make as big of an impact on ourselves as we do on others.  I plan to continue pursuing a servant’s heart, and I would love for you to join me!  My original service challenge is here.  In the comment section below, I would love to hear about your goal to serve or how the challenge impacted you!

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Rom. 12:10, 13, 21

Aubrey Mackey
About Aubrey Mackey 24 Articles
Hey! I’m Aubrey Mackey. I’m currently a speech pathology grad student at Oklahoma State. Lord willing, I will someday work with kids who have speech and language disorders. My loves include porch swings, garden-fresh produce, dialects, and my church family. I also love to cook (especially experimenting to make healthy food that tastes great) and traveling—I’ve been to India, Australia, and several countries in Europe. I plan to blog about Biblical principles that are relevant in this crazy game of learning to be an adult. I hope you find my posts edifying and helpful in your walk with Christ!

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