One of the saddest circumstances for a gospel preacher is to talk to an older member who feels that they’re no longer useful. Or maybe a younger person feels that they haven’t “come into their own” and therefore aren’t very useful to the kingdom of God.
But people can be more useful than they think, and there are a few simple steps for you to be more useful than ever in God’s service.
First, be prepared: “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10). With study, conduct, and teaching put deliberately in this correct order, each of these was able to function properly at its best: study was saved from unreality, conduct from uncertainty, and teaching from insincerity and shallowness.
Second, be available: “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4). When Christ enrolls us as full-time soldiers in His army, we should want to please Him by giving ourselves to His service without distraction.
Third, be humble: “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’” (Matthew 20:25-28). In the pagan world humility was regarded as a vice. Imagine a slave being given leadership! Jesus’ ethics of the leadership and power in His fellowship of disciples is revolutionary. Greatness among the disciples is based on service and humility.
Fourth, be pure: “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’ But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:19-21). Temptation is to be avoided by fleeing what hinders, by following what helps, and by seeking the company of spiritual people.
Fifth, be filled: “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). The highest goal of true religion is the unselfish love of full loyalty to God and goodwill to our fellow human beings. This must be our ultimate goal in life. If we’re not filled with love, then what we do is useless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
If you can fight the constant temptation to look down on yourself, you can be useful in the Master’s service. And once you hit that stride, you can encourage others to be useful in their own way. That’s how disciples are made and the kingdom is enlarged.