". . .if it is serving, let him serve." (Romans 12:7a, NIV)
I love Servers! I do! I love them! They do everything I am unlikely (sometimes unwilling) to do.
The word Server comes from the Greek word "Diakonia" which means "service." It's where we get the word Deacon (1 Timothy 3). Other words used for this gift are "helps" and "ministering."
If you scored high in the Motivational Gift of Serving, here are some things you might like to know about yourself. You are practical in the way you approach life. For you, if something needs fixed or cleaned up you are quick to respond. You are happiest taking care of the behind the scenes tasks like tightening screws, cleaning up after a meal, changing light bulbs, taking out the trash. You typically do not like being in the spotlight. You would rather take care of all the menial tasks there are to do than to just sit and visit with those around you. (That does not mean you are unfriendly!) You find it hard to say no when asked to take care of something that needs fixed or cleaned up. You could easily be a workaholic. Servers sometimes feel they are insignificant in and unappreciated by the church (and even at home) because they do not always get a "thank you" or "well done" for their work. We take you for granted. It's true. For my part, I apologize! You are VERY appreciated and your significance is unmatched.
God has gifted a lot of people with this motivation -- probably because there is always so much that needs to be done. God understands about the details of life. I have known many Servers in my life, but one in particular stands out. A long time friend of ours, this man was seriously, deliriously happy taking out the trash or fixing a squeaky hinge. One time after a meal at our church I was helping to clean up in the kitchen (serving is not my gift but I was trying to exercise it *smile*). I went to throw something in the trash and realized that it was so full it had become unusable. I shouted out to no one in particular, "Someone needs to take out the trash!" It didn't occur to me at the moment to take it out myself. My reaction to the full trash can comes from a different motivation. I didn't mean to be rude, I was just trying to help by letting someone know that this needed to be done. (See? I'm not a Server.) Our friend came running, sorry that he hadn't noticed it sooner, and rushed it out to the dumpster, but not before putting a new bag in the can so that we could continue or work. Servers are great people!
Do not confuse this Motivational Gift of Serving with a gift for hospitality. They can differ. I should know because although Serving is not my gift, there is nothing I love more than being a great hostess. I love to make people feel exceptionally welcome in my home. I spend hours setting the table just right, picking out just the right color of napkins and napkin rings. When I have overnight guests I want the sheets I put on their bed so fresh that they still smell like soap! I am adamant about going last in the serving line for a dinner in my home. I always seat myself very close to the kitchen so that I have quick and easy access to the food and drinks. And I hate it when people feel that they need to help me clean up. When they're in my home I just want them to sit and relax and enjoy! Servers are very uncomfortable with the idea of just sitting like this. This is not to say that a person motivated to serve cannot have a gift for hospitality, it just doesn't always go hand in hand.
Let's look at an example from Scripture: Martha, the quintessential server.
As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her." (Luke 10:38-42, NIV)
No matter how you've read this passage in the past, it is NOT a passage about how Mary is better than Martha because she was sitting at Jesus' feet instead of helping her sister. It is not about Jesus being disappointed in Martha because she was neglecting Him for all the details of serving guests. On the contrary, this passage points out the necessity of what both Mary and Martha had to offer. Mary loves to worship. She has one foot on earth and one foot in heaven. Max Lucado says these are the people you want praying for you. Martha, on the other hand, is motivated to serve. It is how she does life. I think that Max Lucado has it right. In his book Cast of Characters, listen to what he writes: Every church needs a Martha. Change that. Every church needs a hundred Marthas. Sleeves rolled and ready, they keep the pace for the church. Because of Marthas, the church budget gets balanced, the church babies get bounced, and the church building gets built. You don't appreciate Marthas until a Martha is missing, and then all the Marys and Lazaruses are scrambling around looking for keys and the thermostats and the overhead projectors.
Mary and Martha just do life differently. (But this, my friends, is exactly what I'm talking about when approaching the subject of spiritual gifts! One body, many parts.) Mary is seated, worshiping Jesus. Martha is angry because she thinks that everyone should have the same priorities as her. There's a hundred things that need to be done in order to feed their house full of guests. And, all these things really do need to be done. Martha sees Mary's actions as impractical, inconsiderate and a little lazy so she complains to Jesus, "Tell her to help me!" Her issue at the moment is that she has forgotten to serve the Master. She has forgotten that her service to Him is in serving His guests. This is her personal act of worship. Jesus is not condemning Martha for not sitting at His feet. He understands the details of life. Instead He's reminding Martha to choose what is better: worship Him in her service. If we were all like Mary instead of Martha, life around us would become the equivalent of a dump. Does any of this sound familiar, dear Server? It's hard for you to understand why others aren't as practical about the details of life as you. For you, the practical needs easily trump the spiritual needs.
If you scored high in the Motivational Gift of Serving, here's what you need to do. First, know that it's OK to say "no" once in a while. It's not going to feel good and you'll most likely feel guilty for saying it, but it's OK! Do not allow yourself to be a workaholic around the church or around your home. Stop. Rest. Ask God to help you become conscious of overworking and then to give you the wisdom and strength to say "no." Second, remember that your family needs you. Your children won't remember you for all those jobs you did around the church. The rest of us might, but your children won't. Third, and this cannot be overstated: DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR SPIRITUAL NEEDS! Even though for you straightening things up or making sure tomorrow's list of jobs is already written down feels like a spiritual experience, it DOES NOT take the place of time spent in prayer, in quiet, in reflection, in the Word. Even though this is when you feel the least productive, it is when you are actually the most productive. Fourth, remember Whom you serve! It is not the church, it is not the pastor and it is definitely not me. You serve the One who gifted you with this unique and special motivation. Your reward is from serving Him and Him alone. Fifth, be merciful with those who do not jump up to take out the trash! Instead, invite someone whom you suspect does not have this particular gift to grab a bag of trash and join you in the experience.
NOTE: The description of each gift is based on the highest score possible for an individual. You may find that only certain things are true for you and the rest is only true to a certain measure. We are individuals created by an infinitely creative God. We do not fit any certain mold. These descriptions help you to understand why you see things a certain way, why you act a certain way and why some things are more important to you than other things. Most of us will score fairly high in 2 or 3 gifts and how these gifts rank and what God has you involved in at the time will determine how well these gift descriptions speak to your individual personality.