Why is serving in church always so hard and painful? This is a question that I sometimes ask myself as I serve in church.

I don’t think I am someone who is talented in a specific area. When it comes to serving, I do a little bit of everything like a jack of all trades. For instance, I have served as a…

  • Worship leader
  • Cell group leader
  • Camp vice commandant
  • Event planner
  • Social media IC
  • Devotions writer
  • Registration admin

All these roles may make me seem super talented or versatile in ministry, but deep down I have always felt small and out of place. I always feel like an imposter in these roles and wonder if I could bring anything valuable to the table.

More recently at a campus camp, I was also asked to serve as a guitarist.

I was shocked when I first received the text from the worship IC. I’m not that good at playing guitar because I only casually picked up the skill out of a need to play for cell group worship.

Though I explained to the IC that I only know how to strum, can’t pluck and have no experience playing in a band… he decided to still go on with the arrangement.

While I agreed with the decision and promised to try my best, the doubts and regrets swamped in when I was eventually added to the worship band chat.

When I saw the chord sheets, I felt so stressed that I just closed the chat. I didn’t even know how to read the chord sheet. I didn’t even know the difference between the “||” and “//”.

I felt completely lost, helpless and stressed especially since camp was just less than two weeks away.

I was also reminded of my past experiences of serving in church.

There were times when I felt that life was unfair because it seemed like I could never serve God in something that I feel comfortable in. To give some examples, I was asked to:

  • Plan and host pre-believer-friendly outings even though I am more of the chill type than the “fun” type
  • Lead a leaders’ retreat even though I am an extreme introvert
  • Lead the visual design and publicity of a camp even though I am not a graphic designer

Serving God seemed to become something that was always so demanding, and it took a lot out of me. Will I ever get to serve God in something that I enjoy?

However, as I continued serving in this camp, God began to slowly change my perspective through what I experienced.

Many lessons that God had previously taught me regarding serving in church also came back to mind – lessons that I would like to share.

So, if you have also wondered why serving often pushes you out of your comfort zone, here are five takeaways from someone who’s also learning to love and serve the church.

1. Serving teaches us to be humble and learn from others

In the recent camp, the thing that I found the hardest to do was to reach out for help when I couldn’t figure out the chord sheets and didn’t know how to play some chords.

However, I soon realised where the great dread and inertia to reach out for help came from – my ego.

Reaching out was extremely difficult because it felt as if I was admitting my weaknesses and telling others that I wasn’t good at what I was doing.

Asking for help required me to lay down my ego and be humble to learn.

But, isn’t this the whole point? Our opportunities to serve in church aren’t just about completing tasks well. It’s also a chance to explore new things and sharpen our skills for God’s work. 

We often struggle with imposter syndrome when we serve in roles that we’re not confident in. But the truth is that no one is expecting us to be perfect. There is grace for our mistakes and there is room for us to grow. 

2. Serving is an opportunity to experience the beauty of the church

As I humbled myself to learn from others, I also realised that many people were more willing to help than I thought.

The worship IC offered to play alongside me, while the keyboardist supported me by trying to make the chords simpler for me. They were all very kind to offer help and no one was looking down on me.

I just had to get the imposter syndrome out of my own head and stop thinking that I needed to put on a 100-mark performance.

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)

This time of serving in camp led me to experience the beauty of the church that is described in 1 Corinthians 12:26.

The team went the extra mile to support me during the rehearsals leading up to camp, and many encouraged and affirmed me after I had served.

It was a real-life example of how every part of the Body of Christ suffers with the one part that suffers, and how every part rejoices with the one part that is honoured.

3. Serving is a platform to discover our strengths and weaknesses

“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 12:6-8)

Serving in church also gives us opportunities to discover our strengths and our spiritual gifts.

The Bible calls believers to serve the Body of Christ according to the gifts that they have been given.

In order to do so, we need to first discover what are the areas that we have been gifted in – trying to serve in different roles is often a good way to explore.

At the same time, the reverse is also true. As we serve in different roles, we will also come to realise some of our weaknesses or some areas that we are not gifted in.

That is not to say that we have wasted the opportunity to serve or have landed in the wrong ministry. Nothing is wasted with God; our serving is part of the process to discover who God has really created us to be and how He has gifted us to serve His church.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, serving as a communications head for another camp helped me to realise that graphic designing is really not for me.

I realised that there is a limit to the quality of my work no matter how hard I try to learn, simply because I am not gifted in this area.

On the other hand, serving as a cell group leader and a devotions writer has led me to discover my passion for teaching God’s Word and bringing it alive to people. Indeed, one such discovery brought me to my role here at Thir.st!

Hence, when we are placed in roles that we may not feel comfortable in, let’s not be too quick to tap out. Always take it as an opportunity to discover and grow in our gifts and talents!

4. Serving is a call to imitate Christ’s love for His church

I will always remember something that an ex-mentor told me. He once said, “If our desire is really to serve God and His church, then even being a fingernail is being a part of the Body.”

It’s true. We shouldn’t be too calculative about how we get to serve the church or what role we get to play.

Wherever there is a need, whatever role we have been given, however big or small it role is – we should be happy to serve simply because it is a privilege to build God’s church.

At the end of the day, it isn’t so much about which part of the Body we get to be, but simply about building up the Body of Christ.

Interestingly, just one day before my camp, my colleague passed me a copy of The Methodist Covenant Prayer. It reads:

“I am no longer my own but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing: I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.”

This prayer stuck with me throughout the entire camp. It reminds me of Christ’s love for His church – one that gives its life and surrenders all rights (Ephesians 5:25).

A slave of Jesus

While it was a great relief when I was finally done serving for worship, a divine moment happened as I closed my iPad.

I saw a blank cheque that I stuck on the back of my iPad cover. It was a souvenir from another camp that I attended a few years back. It was supposed to remind me of my unconditional surrender to God – that I would do anything for Him and His church.

Inspired by the life of Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru), on it I also wrote: “A slave of Jesus by choice”.

“If our desire is really to serve God and His church, then even being a fingernail is being a part of the Body.”

I wanted to learn from the humility and surrender that Bright had shown in his life:

“I am a slave of Jesus. It is not the slave’s responsibility to be successful. The only responsibility of a slave is to do what the Master asks him to do. When you understand this, you also understand that a slave doesn’t have problems; a slave only has opportunities to see the Master work.”

A mix of regret and gratefulness filled my heart that night. I’m sorry God for forgetting about my commitment to You. I’m sorry for placing my rights and preferences above You and Your church.

Thank You for still using me to build Your church.

  1. Do you find joy in serving? Why or why not?
  2. How does Romans 12:6-8 challenge or encourage you in your service to God?
  3. Encourage someone you know who’s serving the Lord!