Off-duty serving

Last year, we talked about off-season serving. Now, let’s look at the other side, off-duty serving.

As you’ll remember, off-season serving is serving when others least expect it. I think it’s one of the best ways to serve others because you get the most effect for the effort you put in.

For example, when you give someone a gift in the middle of summer for no reason, they’ll remember it and appreciate it more than if you give them the same gift around Christmas time. One seems like you genuinely care – the other can sometimes feel like an obligation.

Off-duty serving is the opposite.

(Photo: Nomadiq Miles)

Off-duty serving defined

Off-duty serving is serving when you least expect it.

I think this is one of the hardest types of serving. But it can be one of the most genuine if you’re able to pull it off. People don’t always appreciate it as much as off-season serving, but God might appreciate it even more.

For me, off-duty serving might mean serving on a Monday. Monday is usually my day off. The weekend church services are over, and it’s time to settle back into a routine to build back up for the coming weekend. So a giant, “let’s fold clothes for the homeless shelter” experience is probably not what I’m wanting to do.

Another hard one for me is at night. After a long day, I want to settle in, maybe read a book, do some writing, or catch a movie with friends. But then I get a phone call. Evidently someone’s car broke down on the other side of town. So I have to get in the car, find them, drop them off somewhere, and then drive home. There goes my evening, maybe even my night’s sleep.

Those are the hard ones, especially if they come after I’ve already had a full day, which is most days. I’m like, “God, come on. I’m off duty here. Can’t I even get the rest I deserve?”

But that’s what off-duty serving is all about. It’s serving when you think you should be having fun, serving when you think you should be self-centered.

Yours might happen on different occasions than mine. Maybe you want to enjoy a game night with the family, but they end up choosing a game you hate. Or you spend money on a meal you don’t like because you were invited to the restaurant but no one was paying for it. Even attending a Bible study when you’d rather not… that can be a form of off-duty serving.

They’re usually not big enough annoyances to guard against, but they wear you down because they come up all the time. Only someone with a genuine heart for serving others can serve in these situations.

That’s the problem, but that’s also the challenge.

Serving Suggestions:

(1) Identify five different situations from the past week where you could have done some off-duty serving. To find these situations, think about when you’ve felt off duty. There’s almost always an opportunity.

(2) In those situations, what could you have done differently? How could you have served others instead of taking a break? Sometimes it’s as simple as letting someone else in line first. Sometimes it’s as complicated as taking half a day off from work to help a friend fix her car. Either way, it’s never easy. But it’s what bondChristians do.

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