9. Service Journey Phase 3 – Giving who you ARE

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

I Corinthians 12:27-31

Giving what you HAVE and what you DO are two important parts to the Service
Journey, particularly when it comes to supporting service-oriented organizations
like South Church.

However, I believe that there is a third phase of the Service Journey that represents
the ultimate in service – not giving what you HAVE and what you DO, but giving who
you ARE.

Phase 3

This phase is based on the idea that we are all unique beings. Of the nearly eight
billion people on this planet, there is not one other who has lived the life that you
have. No one has had:

  • The same upbringing you did
  • The education you had
  • The life experiences you have had
  • The skills you have acquired
  • The successes you have earned
  • The failures you have known
  • The heartbreaks you have endured
  • The values that you hold

Somewhere in that mix is something that other human beings would find very valuable. If you can determine what that is and offer it in service to those who need it, you will be serving in the best way possible.

We at Service Central call it your “gift.” It is a gift that you have received from life, for which you are grateful. From that feeling of gratitude, you then share that gift with others – pass it along.

Determining your gift may not be easy, particularly if you have many of them. So let’s start out with the definition that your gift is something that you LOVE TO DO.

If service is all about God’s love flowing in the world, then why not start out with
what we love.


It was many years ago now when I was responsible for keeping a group of Cub Scouts busy for a few hours one Saturday afternoon. So as I was trying to figure out what to do with them, I thought about what I love to do.

As woodworking has been a hobby of mine for many years, I decided that we would
assemble wooden birdhouses as our afternoon project.

Because I love woodworking, I was delighted to spend the time cutting and drilling the necessary pieces in preparation for our session.

On that Saturday, I thoroughly enjoyed watching these youngsters assemble the birdhouses and seeing the joy and pride they felt when they finished their creations.

I loved doing it, the Scouts loved the experience, and I walked away from that day of service feeling that my gift returned more joy to me than I gave.

This is the ultimate in service – giving what you LOVE to do for the benefit of those who need it.

You are giving something that is unique and meaningful to you. It is part of who you are, and expression of your authentic self.

It is at this phase that the idea of service shifts from something you feel you ought to do, to something that you really want to do.

Frederick Buechner, a Presbyterian theologian and author captured it best when he wrote:

“The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

There we experience the two-way flow of God’s love, creating an experience of service that is fulfilling, meaningful, and joyful.

We will explore in subsequent posts a variety of different ways to discover our gifts and turn them into service possibilities.

Doug Bate
Service Central