What’s in it for me? This is a refrain often repeated and wondered in our modern culture. As Christian workers, we know that our reward may not be measurable here on earth. However, in the practicality of daily living and in the simple state of being human, we also tend to be concerned with receiving proper credit and compensation for the things that we do. Will people know whose hand designed the T-shirt graphic or drew the Sunday school logo? Is there any sort of stipend for all of that Sunday school teaching and curriculum development? Why bother if we don’t see some sort of kick-back?
At times even the most devout and dedicated must pause and consider just what– or who it is that we work for. Much of the work that we wind up doing related to ministry is voluntary, and it is that work that enables churches and ministries to thrive. However, when Sunday School numbers are low or meetings and boards discourage our efforts, we can sometimes question our work in Christian service. Why bother? Is it really worth it?
Well, we might not know the answer to that, at least not right now. It all depends upon how we look at things…if we look to the Word of God for natural motivation, it’s easy to predict how God feels about our compensation for the Kingdom. Consider the words of the gospel of Matthew:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:1-4; 21
It is natural to want credit for our actions and the things that we do. It is always wonderful to be appreciated. But Jesus warns against doing things for credit. We might be the unsung heroes. Maybe we are not up in front of the congregation or speaking to hundreds or dozens. Perhaps we only work with a small group of children or youth. Is it worth it for two or three? Well, Jesus also assures that each and every person is precious, and when we serve others we serve Him…
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ -Matthew 25:40
Our work ultimately goes back to the source of motivation. For what do we do what we do? If we are seeking attention or earthly gain, it is easy to grow disappointed or frustrated. Teaching Sunday school or leading groups is only a drudge if we expect it to be, if our attitude is that of punching a time clock and expecting something in return. What if we alter that perspective? Consider hobbies or passions. We don’t expect recompense for following football teams or fixing old cars or mountain biking. We pay for classes in yoga or cupcake decoration and rarely think of receiving anything bounce back monetarily. We raise children and form families with tremendous sacrifice and without seeing a dollar sign return. So why do we do it? For love. Why do we work with church and serve children? It must be for the same reason: love, devotion, passion, energy. We are influencing the future and each life we invest in will be blessed…if we place our work first and foremost in the hands of the Father, allowing every breath and movement and hope to be in Him and through Him, for Him and to HIM.