Trading “I Deserve” for “I Serve”

Some new activities require a learning curve. Trying spa amenities is not one of them. About a month ago, I met up with my brother's fiancée and fellow bridesmaids for a bachelorette weekend. While the men of the wedding party planned to spend their time hiking and sweating in the desert, the women chose a day filled with fluffy robes, poolside reading, and a session in the steam room. The weekend marked my first time in an actual spa setting, and as I climbed into a lounge chair for a pedicure, I immediately thought, Oh, I get it. I could definitely do this all the time.

As I unlaced the brace around my fractured ankle and placed it in hot water, the technician told me not to worry. A gentle massage in the right hands would be good for my sore muscles. “Your body deserves this time to rest,” she told me. It does deserve it, I thought.

The next morning, as I got in my car to drive home, I tossed my phone into the passenger seat, wondering if I could get away with waiting a little longer to reenter the real world. Without even skimming through my texts, I could guess who had contacted me and what needed to be addressed. As I turned up the volume of the music in my car in an attempt to ignore all of the responsibilities awaiting me on the other side of the trip, I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I’m better at self-care than servanthood.

The Standard for Servanthood 

Whether you’re scrolling through social media or visiting a health clinic, you’ll find reminders to practice “self-care” are all around you. As followers of Jesus, it is important to take care of the body, heart, and mind that God has given you and to be a wise steward of all of the other resources He gives (such as your time, energy, and attention). When He offers good gifts (like a sweet weekend celebrating a future marriage), they can be received and enjoyed with gratitude. But if you’re like me, you may have noticed that you don’t struggle to practice self-care and relaxationas much as you struggle with selfishness and even self-indulgence. My heart and mind are more likely to focus on my own needs than those of others, considering what I deserve rather than looking for ways to lay aside my own comfort and serve. 

The Gospel of Luke offers a perspective and call not echoed by the world; it’s one we need constantly before us. One of the themes Luke focused on both in his Gospel and when he wrote the book of Acts is that the call of disciples is to an upside-down kingdom, one that doesn’t operate the same way the culture does. Luke reminds us that Jesus wants us to be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 

In Luke 10, Jesus sent out seventy-two individuals, and their appointment to His service foreshadowed the assignment that would be given to the whole Church upon Jesus’ resurrection. Their mission was marked by urgency, commitment, and eternal significance. To accomplish it, they wouldn’t need to focus on how they would be served, but how they could lay their lives down in service to Jesus. 

Following the sending out of the seventy-two, Luke 10 includes familiar stories like the parable of the good Samaritan and the story of Mary and Martha. Together, the chapter is an invitation that helps us to flip the script from focusing on what we feel we deserve to embracing the countercultural call to serve.

“I Deserve” or “I Serve”? 

As you read through the following statements, ask yourself which “I deserve” traps you’re most likely to fall into and where God could be calling you into deeper, more selfless service. 

  • “I deserve to pursue my own agenda.” 

Throughout Luke, Jesus challenged His disciples that they couldn’t have it both ways: they couldn’t commit to Him and still hold onto their old way of life. Loyalty to Jesus meant surrendering what they once prioritized (including their relationships and livelihoods) and giving Him full control. Jesus noted: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few” (Luke 10:2). Much work was to be done, but few were willing to sign up for the task. But as Jesus sent them out, it wasn’t “with a mood of gloom, but excitement, authority, revelation, and opportunity.”The greatest plans you could imagine for your own life don’t come close to the adventure of following Jesus where He calls, even when it’s costly.

Lord, help me to serve by prioritizing the mission and purpose of Jesus instead of my own agenda.

  • “I deserve to pursue my comfort above all else.” 

It’s easy to think, “Lord, I’d follow You wherever You lead!” . . . until He leads you to host someone in your home on your one night off, guides you to have an awkward gospel conversation with a coworker, or nudges you to give sacrificially to a parachurch ministry. As the seventy-two were sent out in Luke 10:3–4, it’s clear they were stretched beyond their comfort zones. But as they learned dependence on the Lord, they experienced His provision, grew more like Christ, and got to see a glimpse of the eternal glories to come. 

Lord, help me to serve even when it inconveniences me, trusting that no sacrifice to You is ever made in vain.

  • “I deserve to be proud of what I accomplish.” 

Luke 10 doesn’t just describe the sending out of the seventy-two; it also includes a picture of them coming back: “The seventy-two returned with joy,” verse 17 says. As a reader, can’t you picture these men tripping over each other to tell Jesus all of the incredible moments they witnessed? In the midst of their excitement, Jesus made sure to remind them that their ultimate joy shouldn’t come from their accomplishments—even those done in His name—but from His eternal salvation. 

Praise God that He uses your gifts and allows you to be productive, successful, and fruitful, but don’t forget that your greatest reason for rejoicing should be rooted in what Jesus has done for you. “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

Lord, help me to serve out with joy that’s rooted in what You have accomplished 

through the cross.

  • “I deserve to decide to help (or not help) others based on whether they seem worthy of my time.” 

You may be willing to pour out your time, energy, and resources to serve the Lord when it comes to meeting certain groups of people. You may be tempted to give more of yourself to the women of your church than your own family because of the affirmation you get in return, the fruit you see your efforts produce, and the fun you have in the process. But what about when the Lord calls you to serve those whom you don’twant to serve? 

Luke 10 includes the story of the Good Samaritan, one that has become familiar but has never lost its challenge. When a man fell into the hands of robbers, he was beat up and left half dead (v. 30). While others chose to leave him there, a Samaritan moved forward in compassion, setting a standard for loving others, including those with different backgrounds to your own or those who will not be able to benefit you. When you do the same, you’re reflecting the love and mercy that Christ extended to you (Rom. 5:8).

Lord, help me to serve others in light of the mercy You’ve shown me. 

  • “I deserve to use my hard-earned resources in ways that will benefit me.” 

In Luke 10, when the Samaritan began to care for the wounded man, he “bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (v. 34). He gave money to the innkeeper and said, “Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend” (v. 35). He provided an example for how to wisely use possessions. He used them to serve, knowing he’d get nothing in return. You may find it easier to donate your money, but you feel a sense of ownership over your time. Or you may be willing to open up your home, but you wince at the thought of how your guests will treat the space. Ultimately, all belongs to the Lord; we’re only His stewards (Psalm 24:1).

Lord, help me to serve by giving generously to others.

  • “I deserve to keep serving.” 

Another familiar story shows up in the last verses of Luke 10. Jesus was welcomed into the home of a woman named Martha: “She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks” (vv. 39–40).

You may have gone through seasons where you have grown weary and frustrated and even burned out. You’re called to serve the Lord, but if it’s at the expense of your relationship with Jesus, something has gone wrong. The Lord knows your limitations, and He provides opportunities for you to rest and recover in His presence—take them. 

Lord, as I serve, help me not to focus so much on serving that I neglect to spend time with You. 

Lose Yourself

When I think about the faces in Luke 10, when I imagine the seventy-two people that were sent out in service to Jesus, I think, They fulfilled Acts 1:8. “You will be my witnesses.” They answered the call to lay down their lives, and it brought them genuine joy. I fully believe that when we meet them in heaven, we’ll get to sit around and hear their stories—we’ll hear what it cost them to serve and why it was more than worth it. 

May our lives be marked by that kind of servanthood. To live it out practically will challenge every natural tendency we’re used to embracing in our “I deserve” world. But to prioritize the mission and purpose of Christ is to experience satisfaction deeper than even the best self-care weekend can offer. As Jesus said: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it” (Luke 9:24).

At Revive Our Hearts,our mission is to serve women around the world by calling them to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. It’s true: we love to serve you! But we couldn’t possibly do it without the support of an army of donors who partner with us in prayer and giving. When you join us in our mission, we experience the unique joy of serving together.One way you can join us is by giving toward our $838,000 fiscal year-end goal. When you do, we’ll send you a copy of our booklet Living Out the One Anothers of Scripture as our thanks. 

1 Darrell L. Bock, Luke: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 986.

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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