What is the spiritual gift of serving?

Understanding the spiritual gift of serving

3 min

A Christian’s motivational spiritual gift represents what God does in him to shape his perspective on life and motivate his words and actions. Romans 12:3–8 describes “basic motivations,” which are characterized by inherent qualities or abilities within a believer—the Creator’s unique workmanship in him or her.

Through the motivational gifts, God makes believers aware of needs that He wants to meet through them, for His glory. Then, believers can minister to others through the ministry and manifestation gifts of the Spirit, in ways beyond mere human capability and ingenuity, with maximum effectiveness and minimum weariness.

Each person’s behavior will vary according to factors such as temperament, background, age, gender, culture, and circumstances. However, it is not unusual for individuals who share the same motivational gift to demonstrate common characteristics. Below are some general characteristics that are typically exhibited by those who have the motivational gift of serving.

General Characteristics

A server’s basic motivational drive is to demonstrate love by meeting practical needs. A server is diligent and willing to sacrifice his time and energy in order to complete a task.

  • A server expresses himself most satisfactorily by doing tangible work. He serves by doing, not by explaining or teaching or discussing or giving or organizing, though he may do some or all of those things.
  • Servers prefer short-term tasks. Because their spiritual fulfillment comes from completing a task, they like projects that have beginnings and endings that can be acknowledged.
  • A server will often volunteer to serve in church-related or group-related projects, and you can count on him to be one of the people who are still around at the end of the project, to see it through to completion.
  • Servers would rather carry out responsibilities themselves, and be done with them, than assigning the tasks to someone else.
  • “They are the ones washing dishes after we’ve gone home. They are the ones putting up the chairs while we crawl over them to get to the exits. They are the ones who ask if they can help carry or clean or deliver while everyone else is in their cars heading home. They enjoy the party best if they’re in the kitchen or at the barbecue pit or handing out the food. We want to be served. They want to serve” (Kelfer, p. 55).

A Server’s Strengths

  • Servers tend to be one-man armies.
  • God seems to give special grace to servers to exercise humility, especially when it comes to doing menial chores.
  • Availability is one of the server’s strongest character qualities. He almost never says no when asked to help others.
  • Order is essential for a server. However, he will sacrifice order temporarily if that is necessary to get the job done.
  • Servers have a God-given strength to do physical tasks. You’d better get out of the way when a server’s around!

A Server’s Weaknesses

  • Servers constantly have to deal with the temptation to become over-committed, which can lead to stress and frustration for them and for their families.
  • Servers easily can become frustrated by time limitations. If those frustrations get carried into the arena of personalities, their relationships with others may suffer.
  • If a server feels unappreciated, he can quickly become bitter or resentful.
  • The server’s desire to serve makes him a poor delegator and sometimes even a poor co-worker. Servers work best when they can fulfill a responsibility on their own, without having to depend on others, who usually are not as diligent or loyal as they are.
  • Sometimes servers get their priorities out of order because they are so tuned in to physical needs. Consequently, spiritual priorities may take a back seat, at least temporarily. Given a choice of leading a prayer meeting or cleaning the home of someone who is in the hospital, a server would usually choose to clean the home.
  • Servers tend to be demanding of others who are supposed to be helping—but aren’t. They have disdain for people who are lazy or uncommitted and don’t like to work with them.
  • Servers tend to be perfectionists. They can drive the rest of us crazy because they want to cover all the bases—even ones we think are unimportant.
  • If a server has been pouring his life out for others and feels misunderstood or unappreciated, he can easily be tempted with thoughts of rebellion or jealousy.
Explore more about this topic in Understanding Spiritual Gifts

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