Service or regret, which life do you live?

Earlier this week, I was having dinner with one of our BASE Group* leaders.  We were talking about what makes a BASE Group “successful.”  One of the things we discussed was acts of service, which of course is the “S” in BASE.  The leader said something that slapped me in the face with its clarity and impact.  He said;

“If you don’t live a life of service, you live a life of regret.”

It just rolled off his tongue as if it were something that was obvious to everybody, but I must admit that I was humbled by his statement and have spent the time since then taking stock of my own life in light of it.

There was something powerful in the way he put it; if I refuse to live a life of service, then I will live a life that is filled with regret.  That is a sobering thought to be sure.

The problem with a life of service of course, is that it’s hard.  VERY hard.  There are several reasons for this:

  • Acts of service require a constant crucifixion of the flesh.
  • Acts of service are almost ALWAYS inconvenient.
  • It is the complete opposite of what the world tells us we should do.
  • True acts of service should be done without a desire for thanks or recognition.

Like most other things, Jesus was a revolutionary in the way He viewed service.  As a consequence we, as His people, should be revolutionary in the way we serve.

Consider some of Christ’s words on the subject;

…and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-46, NIV)

But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:26-27, NIV)

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:3, NIV)

If you want to be great, you have to be a slave, if you want to be like Jesus, you have to serve, and if you want to show love, you have to lay down your life for others.

Make no mistake, THAT is revolutionary.

We are taught by the entirety of the world’s system that a robust and successful life is found in looking out for our own interests and making sure that we get what we need first.  If we do serve, we are taught to make sure as many people know about it as possible because that creates leverage we can use for advancement later on.

That is not the way of the servant, the slave, or the unselfish lover.  That is not the Jesus way.

A robust and joyful life is spent loving and glorifying God and serving others so that He will be made famous.  We want no recognition, we want no gifts or rewards, we only want to bring honor and glory to the One who laid down His life as a ransom for ours.

When we reach the end of the days God has ordained for us, will we look back on our lives as a series of God-glorifying acts of service to others that brought Him glory and us joy, or will we regret the opportunities for service that we allowed to pass us by, or worse, that we selfishly ignored?

*For those of you not familiar with the term, BASE Groups is the name for the small-group ministry at New Branch.  BASE stands for the four primary activities of our small group ministry: Bible Study, Accountability, Service and Evangelism.

5 thoughts on “Service or regret, which life do you live?

  1. Thanks Joe- great use of Biblical examples to help those desire to serve Christ through humbly serving others.

    A favorite verse of mine goes somehting like this:

    I have prepared good deeds in advance for you to walk through…

    God has already planned out the good deeds for us to do, but we must use our faith to do them… How much does He love us…

    God bless you – dave

  2. This is a quick and easy test for us to know where our heart is living. Thank you for sharing this pearl of wisdom that landed in your path.

  3. Joe,

    Can you please clarify a couple of comments for me? I’m not sure if I understand your perspective on service.

    The first is “The problem with a life of service of course, is that it’s hard. VERY hard.”

    And the second is one of the several reasons you listed for it being hard…”Acts of service are almost ALWAYS inconvenient.”


    • Chris: Absolutely and thanks for asking.

      Both of those statements are meant from the viewpoint of our (or maybe just “my”) sinful flesh. It often seems that there is something else I’d rather do than lay down my life in service to others. And of course it is always “easier” to feed my flesh than serve others. For example, on any given Saturday, my flesh would rather have me at home watching TV, or relaxing, or whatever rather than laying down my life, my time, and my agenda. That makes service inconvenient and difficult. It’s all very selfish of course, but that is the point I am trying to make, and that is of course what brings a life of regret.

      The good news of course, is that God gives us the power and the desire to do His will and, as David pointed out, He has ordained good works for us to do so in that sense, when we serve, there is always that grace to do so. And that is when service becomes a joy and a delight. That is a joy folks like you, and many others, have discovered.

      It’s difficult to say everything that probably should be said in 700 words or less on a blog post so I appreciate you asking about this to give me a chance to clarify, which is what I hope I have done.

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