Calculated Service

Seldom has a poem so rocked my world.

South African Joe Seramane wrote about how we respond in such calculated, manipulative ways to the daily callings of God. He ended with a prayer seeking God’s forgiveness.

Let me just share Seramane's poem. See if his words grip your heart the way they did mine.

You asked for my hands that you might use them for your purposes.
I gave them for a moment then withdrew them, for the work was hard.
You asked for my mouth to speak out against injustice. I gave you a whisper that I might not be accused.
You asked for my eyes to see the pain of poverty. I closed them for I did not want to see.
You asked for my life that you might work through me. I gave you a small part that I might not get “too involved.”

Lord, forgive me for calculated efforts to serve you only when it is convenient for me to do so, and only in those places where it is safe to do so, and only with those who make it easy to do so. Father, forgive me, renew me, send me out as a usable instrument, that I may take seriously the meaning of your cross.

~ Joe Seramane (Lifelines, Christian Aid, 1987)

That one phrase, “Lord, forgive me for calculated efforts to serve you,” describes (too often) the quality of my service. How rarely I pour out my service with lavish love. I say I want to make a difference, yet am I truly usable when I qualify my service?

Some of my personal strengths include planning ahead, counting the cost, organizing, and making wise choices. But those strengths can also set the stage for selfishness, if God is moving in another direction or asking for more.

God is not pleased with incomplete obedience, conditional commitment, or calculated service—those times when we hold back as He calls us to give, to get involved, to make a difference. We are to live like Christ who prayed, "Not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39). Surrender and fear of the Lord are the key to knowing and doing God's will; He looks for the condition of our hearts (Psalm 25:12; Psalm 25:9).

Calculated service? Father God, forgive.

What about you? How do you prevent a spirit of calculated ministry?

For more thoughts about total surrender, see "Letting God Choose."