Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve. 1 Peter 5:2
Serve, not because you must—not because you feel duty-bound, or can’t say no, or because you are trying to earning bonus points with God, or the church, but because you are willing. Neither do we serve because we are particularly talented or gifted, but because we’re willing. Our gifts and talents might determine how and where we serve but we serve out of willingness not out of obligation. Neither do we serve for “dishonest gain.” Dishonest gain may be money but it can be in the form of expectation we place on others. We may make others feel indebted, or obligated to express appreciation for our act of service. To be willing our service isn’t given on a reciprocal basis.
But how do we become willing if we are not? How do we become eager to serve? We do so by thinking about how much God has done for us. We think about how much God loves us, how he sent his son to die for us and how he gives us his Spirit to empower us. We focus on the cross and all that it means. We might reflect on Charles Wesley’s words: “Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” Our service becomes willing when it’s a response to what God has done and continues to do for us.
When we have the right attitude our service isn’t drudgery. It may be hard work and difficult at times but nevertheless, it comes from a heart of gratitude.