Finding the Joy in Serving Others - The Crosswalk Devotional - November 5

Do you ever compare your service for God’s Kingdom with others? Are there times when your joy in serving depends on praise or recognition? Ask the Lord to help you remember that we serve Him and His glory.

Author of Beyond the Noise
Nov 05, 2022

The Crosswalk Devotional

Finding the Joy in Serving Others
By Laura Bailey

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

"Why isn't this sticking?" Frustrated, I ripped the fragile tissue paper, knowing it meant starting again from scratch. I plopped down on the stage steps feeling sorry for myself because I'd been at the church all week preparing for Vacation Bible School, one of my favorite weeks of the year—at least it used to be.

"Everything okay?" a nearby friend playfully asked. Trying to conceal my mini break-down, I muttered, "Yeah, I'm fine." Sensing I was upset over more than a few pieces of torn paper, she descended from the ladder and sat down next to me. 

As she wrapped her arms around me, I choked back tears, exasperated and embarrassed. Assuming that trying to balance mothering and directing VBS had caused my mini-meltdown, my comrade in arms rubbed my back and assured me that I was doing an excellent job in both roles. Unable to hold back a week's worth of growing annoyance, I voiced the real reason for my irritation: laxed church members who rarely, if ever, pitched in to help...with anything. It just didn’t seem fair.

"Are you finished?" my friend asked without a hint of judgment in her voice. Quickly realizing that I had just vented my ugliest thoughts to one of the most respected women in my church, I scrambled to excuse my outburst. "I'm sorry. I'm just tired and hungry after skipping lunch. Please ignore my grumbling. Let's call it a night." 

Taking my hand, she looked directly into my eyes and said, "You can't let others' failure to serve rob you of your desire to serve; remember, this is not about them, it's about Him," tilting her head toward the cross that hung above the stage. 

The advice she shared that day profoundly changed my life. I’d lost the desire to serve the Lord out of a heart of gratitude and love; instead, I equated ministry “detail” with godliness. Sitting on those steps, I realized it wasn't just the past week that had left me frustrated, but years of carrying the weight of comparing myself to others, meeting self-imposed expectations, and faking a sense of false humility about all that I did for the church. Suddenly, it was too much to bear, at least with a smile.

Growing up in the church, I'd heard numerous sermons about being joyful in all circumstances, doing everything without grumbling or complaining and humbly serving others. I actually framed Colossians 3:23-24 to hang by my desk at work as a constant reminder that God called me to work with all my heart for His glory in whatever I do.  

Sure, I genuinely enjoyed planning and leading programs for our church, but wanted people to know how much time and effort I’d put into the process. If someone else received recognition for something I'd made happen, I became agitated and resentful. Critical and judgmental of other members who weren't actively serving, I figured they were spiritually immature or outright disobedient Christians. All the while I inwardly praised myself for my commitment to the Lord's work and being a faithful follower. 

I realized that trying to outdo my fellow sister and brother in Christ pleased neither the Lord nor me. Joy, happiness, and self-worth no longer depended on everything going perfectly at Vacation Bible School, nor did praise for all of my input. Although recognition and compliments for a job well done do encourage and lift up, they were no longer the reason I signed on when our church presented "opportunities."  My volunteerism now stems from a heart filled with love for Christ and a desire to bring honor and glory to Him instead of myself.

After that conversation with my friend that day, I'd like to report that irritation at others' unwillingness to roll up their sleeves to help shoulder our church's needs never surfaced, but it does at times. However, my heart's perspective is firmly focused on the eternal, not the temporary. I am learning to cheerfully serve, even in those unseen areas, even when others do not. Content without the praise of man and confident that it is not what I do but my genuine willingness to do whatever God intends for me, I count it all joy.

Intersecting Faith and Life:
Do you ever compare your service for God’s Kingdom with others? Are there times when your joy in serving depends on praise or recognition? Ask the Lord to help you remember that we serve Him and His glory.

For Further Reading:
James 1:1-4
Matthew 6:3-4

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Martin Dm

Laura Bailey headshotLaura Bailey is a Bible teacher who challenges and encourages women to dive deep in the Scriptures, shift from an earthly to an eternal mindset, and filter life through the lens of God’s Word.  She is the author of Beyond the Noise, and loves any opportunity to speak and teach women of all ages. She is a wife and momma to three young girls. Connect with her on her website,, Facebook and Instagram.

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