When thinking about verses that have helped me learn the importance of service, my mind immediately jumps to Romans 12, which is my very favorite chapter of the Bible.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12: 1-8
I first truly understood this passage on my very first mission trip, at the age of 23. I had been attending church for about a year and decided that my church’s trip to the Dominican Republic seemed like a really cool adventure and a great way to spend a week in July. It was…but not in any way that I expected!
We spent a week working with locals to build a parsonage for a church, and helped run a VBS for a local pastor that we have a very strong partnership with, Luis. It was amazing and humbling to walk in support of local leadership. We spent time with Luis’s family and congregation and really get to know the community that we were supporting.
I remember being super frustrated, at the beginning of the week, with teammates who weren’t committed to or successful with the construction task at hand. I felt that I had to prove that I could do it all, so that I could show everyone that I was doing my mission trip “the right way.” I was pretty new to the church at that point and was still processing what “following Christ” meant in my life.
One morning our devotional time focused on Romans 12, and how our gifts all come together to build a community of people following Christ.
And that was the moment of true conversion for me.
The people on my team who were not gifted in construction (and, despite my best efforts, I DEFINITELY include myself in that group!) kept everyone’s water bottles full, offered encouragement, played with the kids in the neighborhood and used their amazing gifts to offer support to those who were building, and, when it came time to run the VBS, those were the people who thrived. They didn’t need any extra push to sit on the floor and spend a few hours coloring and playing with the kids.
I felt like I was watching the Bible come to life and walk down the street with me. I truly saw the value of serving as a team. I began to see my gifts and weaknesses as God given. Each of our weaknesses give another person space to truly shine, just the way God made them.
I am so thankful for that trip. It was the very beginning of a journey that led me to exactly where I am today. I was baptized as a new daughter in Christ on the last day of that trip and I committed my life to loving and serving the Lord and His people in the spirit of Romans 12. Living out my gifts and giving my beautiful brothers and sisters room to live out theirs - because no one’s giftedness is any more important than anyone else’s. They work together to create the glorious body of Christ right here on Earth.
- Jessica Fothergill, CSM Boston Associate City Director