I think that in all of our attempts at service and discipleship, the best ingredient is friendship with our Friend. Without it, service and discipleship become qualities necessary for employment with God, dry and measurable, always under scrutiny by the Big Boss. Did you punch your time card today? Were you on time? Did you have a pleasing attitude? Did you whistle while you worked?
Have you ever gotten tired of serving, serving, serving? What ended your fatigue? Wasn't it when you stopped and got off the job? Doesn't that tell you that there's something missing in your service? There is! It's friendship with God. While ultimately He is the Big Boss in the Big Office, He doesn't confine Himself to proper relationships commensurate to His status, shunning interaction with the lower subjects of his corporation. He's with you! Right there on the job, sharing in your labor, delighting in your style, making much of Himself by pointing at you in front of the angels. He enjoys you!
I don't mean to demean service to God--it's just that many of us have been kept from the delight and honor of it because we're so concerned with how we're doing it and that we have to! Nowadays we commonly measure ourselves by the amount and quality of our service but rarely by the enjoyment of our friendship with our Friend.
One of the most startling things I tell the people in ministry with me, be it Children's, Youth, Music, Women's, etc., is that they don't have to do it. 'Cathe, there's no one collecting your time card at the end of this week, you know.' If service to God has become a grinding drudgery, the antidote is not more service or less--it's a renewal of friendship with God. Discovering that we can enjoy His friendship on the job is what keeps us well in the job. When serving becomes more important than friendship with Him, the life and value go out of it, and you probably know what a power outage that is.
Serving God is a high calling--friendship with God is not the cost but the fuel. Yet if we can be sold on the idea that service is the highest compliment to God and not love reciprocated and friendship enjoyed, then Satan can soon weary us and prevent the full stature of who and what we are from emerging. Something of the glory of God gets hidden.
But what if we give ourselves to enjoying God and His friendship with us? Will we get much out of it? Will we still serve Him? Will it help us on the job and make a car payment? Yes! Sort of. Friends love each other and love works. More specifically, love invigorates and compels us; it motivates us and carries us into the day in order to see where it might rush out, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14. It's relatively effortless, like a perfect stream moving through you. And couldn't you use a little bit of that on the job? How about around home? Or in your relationships?
Let me ask you this: if you spent a day dwelling upon and enjoying the love God has for you, would you expect to receive an infusion of power, some real 'Ooomph' for your day? Would you expect to be supplied, pushed, and driven by it and think that it would be the best thing for your day?
When we fail and break down, it's not a failure of service or of proper discipleship, it's a failure of love. And God's love is at all times lavished upon us because of His grace to us in Christ. Knowing what He thinks of you, knowing why He approaches you in the manner He does (as a friend!) is all because of grace! Approaching Him as a friend will affect your life. In love you'll look and act like a servant and disciple of Christ. With appreciated grace in evidence--you'll look great.
(Excerpted from my book, Better Off Than You Think--God's Astounding Opinion of You; Chapter Ten; Friendship With Our Friend.)