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Kinds of service

"...shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:2-3 ESV)

Richard Foster in his Celebration of Discipline (25th anniversary edition) made a comparison between "self-righteous" service and "true" service (pp 128-130 in the 1998 edition). Paul Robbins in Leadership Journal, 1988, p 146, summarized these characteristics and cast them as "self-focused" and "Christ-focused" service. In paraphrased form, this becomes a most helpful evaluation for us...

Self-focused service is concerned with impressive gains. It enjoys serving when the service is titanic or growing in that direction. Christ-focused service doesn’t distinguish between small and large. It indiscriminately welcomes all opportunities to serve.

Self-focused service requires external reward, appreciation, and applause. Christ-focused service rests content in hiddenness. The divine nod of approval is sufficient.

Self-focused service is highly concerned about results. It becomes disillusioned when results fall below expectations. Christ-focused service is free of the need to calculate results; it delights only in service.

Self-focused service is affected by feelings. Christ-focused service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need. The service disciplines the feelings.

Self-focused service insists on meeting the need; it demands the opportunity to help. Christ-focused service listens with tenderness and patience. It can serve by waiting in silence.

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