Hello, I am Samuel Lee, the Director of Asian-Pacific Region of the Southern California Conference. Today, I want to share with you a message about the meaning of service in ministry.

Here at Southern California Conference, one of our core values is engagement. It reads: “We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ. To reach people no one is reaching, we will have to be fully engaged, doing things no one is doing.”

What does this look like for each of us? How can we be fully and selflessly engaged in ministry daily?

In Mark 10:42-45 (NIV), we read: “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.’ Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 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.”

The major difference between Jesus and the worldly great men is this: In this world, the One who is served is the big one, but Jesus was among us as one who serves. And in Jesus’ kingdom, the one who serves is the big one. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ is the place of joy and happiness not because of being served or the street of gold, but because of the way of life, which is service. The greatness of Jesus is in His service: service to the poor, the sick, the sinners, the weak, and the underprivileged.

In the book, The Ministry of Healing, we read that, “The evidence of His divinity was seen in His ministry to the needs of suffering humanity” (page 35).

To serve or to be served? That is the question.

1. Service is the purpose of salvation.

We have indeed been saved to serve!

In Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV), a well-known text, the Apostle Paul writes: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Christ’s Object Lessons, page 326, says, “Christ’s followers have been redeemed for service.”

2. Service is the purpose of life.

We were created to live in service to God and our fellow man, living a life that is fully engaged in Christ’s ministry. 

“Our Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry (service). Christ Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives the law of service, service to God and to their fellow men. The law of service becomes the connecting link which binds us to God and to our fellow men” (COL, 326).

The Desire of Ages, page 623: “And the law of self-sacrifice is the law of self-preservation. The husbandman preserves his grain by casting it away. So in human life. To give is to live. The life that will be preserved is the life that is freely given in service to God and man.”

3. Service is service, whether you do it with or without pay.

The great theologian and the former chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys, Dr. Howard Hendricks, once told the story of a revealing experience he had on a cross-country flight. His flight, interminably delayed, had most of the passengers anguished, disturbed, and frustrated. Tempers flared, arguments ensued, fingers pointed. And caught in the middle of it all: the flight attendants, who did their best to keep the peace and allow sanctity to prevail. The flight eventually lifted off, and during a quiet moment, Dr. Hendricks managed to pull aside one of the battle-weary flight attendants to offer some words of praise: “I just want to say that I watched how you handled yourself throughout that whole ordeal, and I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am. American Airlines is so fortunate to have an employee such as you.” The delighted attendant smiled and gave Dr. Hendricks a response that, in his words, “shocked me awake.” She said, “Well, thank you, sir, but you see I really don’t work for American Airlines.” At this point, the good doctor began to wonder exactly what flight he was on. She continued, “I work for the Lord Jesus Christ. And each day during my commute to the airport, I pray and ask God to use me as His servant working at American Airlines.”

Before you may have a big opportunity of service, you can find plenty of opportunities to serve every day, in every moment of life.

Patriarchs and Prophets, page 158, says, “And it is only by self-forgetfulness, by cherishing a loving, helpful spirit, that we can make our life a blessing. The little attentions, the small, simple courtesies, go far to make up the sum of life's happiness, and the neglect of these constitutes no small share of human wretchedness.”

Even a smile could be a great service. A smile costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.

So, to serve or to be served? That is the question. What is your answer?