This story appears in FCA Magazine’s March/April 2018 issue.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” — 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Have you ever been around someone who is "next level" in terms of their passion for what they do? You know, the type of person who has become an expert in a particular area, but still has a very sharp focus on growth and improvement — someone who eats, breathes and sleeps what they love to do? Some people are passionate about technology. Others love building things or fixing cars or financial planning. Some are consumed by healthcare or justice or teaching. And for some, likely many of you, it may be sports. They can't stop thinking about it or talking about it.
I know people like that, and they inspire me. Somehow, though, I'm even more inspired when they use their talents and passion to focus on helping others. This brings them a greater sense of purpose and begins to make a difference for those around them.
That is the essence of serving. There are countless examples of this in Scripture, but I love the passage in 1 Peter 4. Paul is talking about living our lives for God instead of for our own selfish pursuits. He encourages us to take a look at all the ways God has gifted us, and use those gifts to serve others. Serving is about what we can do to meet the needs of others. It's about what we can give, not what we can get.
"Serving is about what we can do to meet the needs of others."God wants to connect the way He has wired us to what we do. He wants us to take the things we are most passionate about and use them for the good of others and, ultimately, His glory. When we operate in our natural gifting, it typically brings us life and bears much fruit. Others always benefit.
When I think about people like this, one jumps out immediately. Her name is JoAnn, and she is a close personal friend of my wife. She's a personal trainer and life coach who lives out the value of serving.
Everything JoAnn does is focused on one thing: results. She consumes information about the best workouts, and then tests them for effectiveness. She learns about nutrition for muscle gain, weight loss and sports performance. She tailors her advice for her clients' specific needs, knowing what works for people in their teens, their 40s, or even their 80s. JoAnn is a student of optimal health and vitality and has helped people from all walks of life, from athletes looking to maximize their potential to mothers seeking the energy to work full-time while raising a family. She also helps people rehab from injury and recover from illness.
JoAnn, simply, serves.
In turn, so many people are blessed by her because she is using her unique gifts and talents — the things she is most passionate about — to help others fulfill their potential and get the results they desire. Nothing brings her more satisfaction than helping someone else. And she does all of this behind the scenes, never seeking the spotlight or credit. Instead, she wins when her clients win.
Over the years, while observing the professionalism and practice of JoAnn and other personal trainers like her, there are several qualities they all have in common.
Serving requires humility. Those who serve always think highly of others and elevate their needs ahead of their own. Even though they are experts, the best will never make you feel inferior for not knowing what to do. In fact, it's quite the opposite; they'll make you feel special. (Romans 12:3)
Serving requires learning. Those who serve are always seeking knowledge and wisdom because others are depending on them. Leaders are made to serve others and need to "stay ahead" of those they serve with insight and knowledge. (James 1:5)
Serving requires commitment. Those who serve have an unwavering commitment to others' success. They don't give up when challenges or obstacles arise. In fact, those bumps in the road energize them to help you overcome. They reject excuses and encourage you to do the same. (Luke 14:18)
Serving requires belief. Those who serve believe things will get better, even if the circumstances are rough. Oftentimes, they have enough belief for the two of you. Their optimism overcomes our doubts. (Luke 1:37)
Those who serve give others everything they've got. It's an act of love to lay down your life for another. Using the gifts and talents God has given you is a powerful way to make a big difference for others. And serving others is the most effective way to steward God's grace in your life.
Our strengths and talents are not primarily intended for us, but for others. When it's all said and done, God might just accomplish something pretty important and make a lasting difference for others through you.
1. What are you passionate about? What gifts and talents has God given you? What do you love to do?
2. How can you use your passions and gifts to serve others? In what ways can you use your gifts to bless others and make a difference?
About the author
Jimmy Page serves as the Executive Director of Field Ministry-West Division of FCA. As a 20-year medical fitness leader and former National Director of FCA Health and Fitness, he models and promotes principles that lead to abundant health and life. Jimmy is an author of True Competitor, One Word, Wisdom Walks, Life Word, and Called to Greatness. He and his wife, Ivelisse, started a cancer foundation called believebig.org following her victory over cancer. They have four children in Fort Collins, Colo.