3 traps which line the way to growing giving hearts

Written by Amy L. Sullivan

SERVE Editor Word lover. Book devourer. Music addict. Amy is a Northern girl who found herself living in the South. She drinks sweet tea, turns her nose up at okra, and attempts to tell her daughters "yella" isn't a color.

January 24, 2013

hole, giving

Traps line the way in serving others, and even the well-meaning, may lose their footing. As you look for ways to serve, I urge you to avoid these nasty distractions.

The gold star trap. Growing a servant’s attitude doesn’t earn you extra gold stars. God instructs us to serve others, but it doesn’t matter if you house foster children, visit a slew of elderly people, or give your needy friend extra attention. God doesn’t tally good deeds on a giant chalkboard in the sky, and neither should you.

The solution: Put down the chalk.

The comparison trap. At one time or another, we all use the dreaded Who Does More? scale in our homes. You make dinner and grocery shop. Your husband should organize the garage. If he doesn’t, the scale tips too much in your direction, and bitterness creeps in. Unintentionally, the scale also finds its way in service too.

The solution: Quit trying to weigh deeds.

The filling  your calendar trap. Many of the obligations on our calendar aren’t bad. No, in fact, items are often put on the calendar with good intentions. Teaching Sunday School? Good. Volunteering in your daughter’s classroom? Great. Filling in as a coach for your son’s basketball team? Fantastic.

But too many “good” committments in one week? No way! Too many obligations plus you stretched thin equals serious frustration and little joy.

The solution: Don’t automatically commit to anything, even if it is in the name of service.

Photo credit.


  1. Shelly Miller

    Great and practical advice Amy. I learned (the hard way) to pray about each opportunity as it presents itself. I’m often surprised about what I feel God is saying no to.

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      See, I used to say no to everything. Then, I said yes to everything. Now, I’m just trying to toss it all up in prayer. Thanks for reading!

  2. Lisa Van Engen

    Guilty of all three, at one time or another. Thank you for the great reminder. I’m learning more and more to surrender to God and the lightness I feel is powerful.

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      I’m guilty of all three too, especially the overcommitting and keeping score…those are personal favorites.

  3. Lori McClure

    Yeah, that whole score-keeping thing is exhausting, and it doesn’t work no matter what area you’re trying to control. Unless, of course, you’re playing sports. Then, by all means, keep score. (Yes, this is the dorkiest comment you’ll receive on this blog post, but I’m okay with it.)

  4. Sandra Heska King

    I’ve found I’ve had to be very careful of long-term commitments that I can’t do on a very flexible schedule. The urgent seems to pop up at the most inconvenient times. I can write an article at midnight or 4 a.m. — but I can’t necessarily teach a class then. And I never (almost) say yes right away. I’ve learned the hard way, too.

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Agreed. I’ve gotten so sucked into things that sound like good ideas and later turn out to be giant time sucks. The wait and pray attitude seems to work best for me.


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3 traps which line the way to growing giving hearts

by Amy L. Sullivan time to read: 1 min