From the LYWB.com Team: Did you know this blog isn’t the only place to find great LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com content? Read about God’s truth in our Insta feed, @liesyoungwomenbelieve or look for Revive Our Hearts on Pinterest. The post below is one of our most pinable posts ever (with more than 1,000 pins). With so many clicks and shares, we thought it was worth revisiting.
I love it when you ask hard questions!
One reader recently wrote, “How do I serve others?” The fact that you are even asking that question makes me want to give you a gold star! So many of us spend our time secretly asking the opposite: “How can I get others to serve me?” But this is not how the Bible teaches us to live. Let’s unpack service for a minute, and then I’ll give you a list of 50 super-practical ways to serve others. (Yep, 50!)
“Hey! You matter!”
The Bible has a lot to say about service. Since the subject gets so much real estate in God’s Word, we can assume it’s something God wanted us to understand and then live out.
But what does it mean to serve others, exactly?
Philippians 2:3–4 helps us figure that out.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Mind if I re-phrase that in Erin language?
Service = finding practical ways to show other people they matter. It’s like saying, “Hey! You’re important, and I want to prove it to you.”
That’s something that sounds great in theory, but isn’t always so appealing in real time. True service requires sacrifice. We must sacrifice our abilities for the good of others, not just ourselves. We must sacrifice our talents to invest in others, not just to make ourselves look good. We must sacrifice our time, something that is always in short supply. And here’s the kicker: to truly serve like the Bible calls us to, we must do it with zero promise of a personal pay off. There’s no guarantee that the people we serve will return the favor or even notice our efforts. We are called to serve others anyway.
Flipped Upside Down
When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus has a habit of taking what we think we know about how the world should work and flipping it upside down. He certainly did this with the idea of service.
“And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43–44).
Here’s the equation Jesus is sketching out . . .
- Do you want to be first? Be last.
- Do you want to be a big deal? Serve others.
- Do you want to be great? Be a servant.
- Do you want to be number one? Be a slave.
If we’ve been in church very long, we know these verses, but have you ever taken the time to consider the whacky advice Jesus is dishing out here? How is it possible to be a big deal by making others a big deal? How can we become number one by being a slave to someone else? Jesus is showing us that value is assigned differently in God’s kingdom than it is in our world. We live in a culture that highly values self. Jesus is saying that in contrast, He highly values those who look out for others.
He didn’t leave us high and dry, trying to figure this mixed up equation out on our own. He is the solution. His life is the formula we can follow.
Matthew 10:45 says it this way, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
If anyone deserves to be served, it’s Jesus. But He spent His life showing others “you matter.” So can we.
Less Talking—More Doing
The thing about service is that it requires rolled-up sleeves and dirty fingernails. In order to truly serve others, we have to stop talking and start doing. That’s why when Jesus described service in places like Matthew 25:35–40 He made very practical suggestions like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting those who were sick and in prison.
With that advice in mind, here are 50 practical ways you can start serving others right now.
- Do the dishes without being asked.
- Offer to help a younger sibling with his/her homework.
- Start your parents’ car so it will be nice and warm when they hop in.
- Contact your school principal ask how you can volunteer at school.
- Spend five hours per week volunteering in your church office.
- Go through your closets and donate old books and games to your local hospital.
- Visit someone from your church who is hospitalized. Your pastor can help you with this.
- Volunteer at your local pregnancy care center.
- Buy someone lunch.
- Depending on the season, shovel snow or mow the lawns in your neighborhood.
- Offer to help your mom clean out closets then organize a yard sale and give the profits to charity.
- Be a mentor. Find a girl who is younger than you and offer to do a Bible study together.
- Teach Sunday school.
- Bring baked goods to someone who is sick or hurting. Here’s a killer cookie recipe you might try.
- Don’t take the best seat in the house.
- Write an encouraging note and leave it in a friend’s locker.
- Support a ministry financially. Here are a few of my favs:
- Pure Freedom
Mission: To equip women and girls to live lives of purity.
- Sole Hope
Mission: To prevent methods to combat diseases that enter through the feet and create a positive physical and spiritual difference in the lives of individuals in impoverished communities.
- Jackson Heights Church Plant
Mission: To plant a church for South Asians in New York City.
- Pure Freedom
- Promote someone else’s ideas. Whenever possible, champion others.
- Start a Bible study in your school.
- Ask your youth pastor how you can help set up or tear down for youth group.
- Send an anonymous donation to someone you know who is struggling financially.
- Volunteer to rock babies in the NICU at your local hospital.
- Go on a short-term mission trip through your church.
- Sponsor a child through a Christian sponsorship organization.
- Pick a missionary and commit to pray for them one hour each week. Here is a place to connect with missionaries associated with the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
- Plant a garden. Share your produce with an elderly couple in your area.
- Create a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.
- Donate to our blog. Here’s how.
- Instead of pitching them, give your old clothes to a local shelter.
- Send a care package to deployed soldiers.
- On garbage day, pull everyone in the neighborhood’s garbage cans back to their houses.
- Call a momma you know and offer to babysit for free.
- Make some encouraging posters and anonymously hang them around your school. Here are a few slogans you can totally steal!
- You matter!
- You’re a big deal!
- I’m proud of you.
- You are my sunshine, my only sunshine!
- What is your mom’s least favorite household chore? (Laundry, dishes, sweeping the kitchen floor?) Take over that job for her.
- Fast one day a week to pray for others.
- Adopt a grandma or grandpa at your local nursing home and visit regularly.
- Give compliments generously.
- Send flowers.
- Let someone else pick what show you watch.
- Write encouraging notes on all of your friends’ Facebook walls.
- Write your favorite Scriptures out on note cards. Insert them into books at the school or public library.
- Make and deliver chemo care packages. Here’s how.
- Ding dong ditch. Place flowers or goodies on someone’s doorstep. Ring the bell and run!
- Write a note to your teachers telling them you appreciate their investment in you.
- Do a chore for a brother or sister without them knowing.
- Who do you know that’s lonely? Call her up and make plans.
- Leave a quarter in a vending machine or parking meter for someone else to use.
- Organize a food drive in your church or school.
- Plan a talent night and give the money raised to missions.
- Offer to give an entire day to someone you know. Let them set the agenda.
If the goal of service is simply to esteem and meet the needs of others, the possibilities are endless. So let’s stop talking about it and start doing it, shall we? Who can you serve today? What will you do to follow Jesus’ lead and put others first? Leave me a comment below and tell me about it.