that’s it, i quit: three things you must quit in order to serve others

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.

March 7, 2013

serve others

I used to think and rethink ways to live a life of love. I agonized over my self-absorbed life and poured over service opportunities.

Then, I sat.

I refused occasions to serve others. I’m busy. I don’t know them. I don’t have a heart for that. Not good.

Then, I tried to change, and I accepted every prospect to serve others. Sure, pile on something else. I want to know everyone. I have a heart for all. Equally, not good.

However, somewhere between doing nothing and doing everything, I’ve come to see true service begins when we quit doing these three things:

1. Quit serving with an idea of what service looks like. 

I want to help, and I want to help in cool and dramatic ways.

I see the husband and wife traveling to Ethiopia to adopt another child, and I think what a way to serve, to literally take in orphans.

I read about the sweet family of five working at an orphanage for girls in Thailand, and I think what a way to serve, to rescue defenseless girls from the snares of sex trafficking.

Then, I picture myself doing quiet things, boring things, and I cop a teeny attitude. You want me to bring in a coat for the local shelter? Blah, boring.

The truth: True service comes when serving is no longer fun or exciting.

2. Quit treating life as an endless checklist. 

I desire to accomplish, but my hurry-up-and-do-it-attitude often trumps the needs around me.

My schedule dictates my mood.

I multitask, but few things receive my full attention.

I drive quickly by the new neighbor, again.

The truth: True service comes when we take the time to notice the needs of those around us.

3. Quit trying to make a difference. 

I want results, and a sense of significance.

It’s easy to invest in people or projects that are succeeding. Once, I volunteered with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. My little sister’s family was mean and unappreciative, and my little sister was demanding. I felt used, and often thought of myself as a free babysitter.

Why couldn’t these people just appreciate the fact that I was trying to spend quality time with their daughter?

The truth: True service comes when you don’t see results, but you do it because you know that’s what God is asking from you.

Is there anything you need to quit before you start to serve?


  1. Kris Camealy

    Oh man. This is SO good. thank you, Amy. The last one strikes me particularly hard. My wants often get in the way of His will. This message? you wrote it for me. Thank you! ((hugs))

  2. SimplyDarlene

    Oftentimes, whilst folks sit around the table and visit, I wash dishes after Sunday shared meal at the home church my family attends. One day as someone handed me another dirty plate to scrape into the compost bin before rinsing it for the dishwasher, that person looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you for serving us in this way.”

    I was taken aback. Who knew that helping out with dirty dishes is an act of service?

    Miss Amy, your last line is especially God-grande.



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that’s it, i quit: three things you must quit in order to serve others

by Amy L. Sullivan time to read: 2 min