How to Fulfill Your Ministry: Learn to Serve Others

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you effectively fulfilling your ministry? Are you living out your purpose to serve others?

God made you to serve others in the larger context of his mission to restore the relationship between Himself and humanity. When you identify how God uniquely designed you to serve—and when you cultivate a servant’s heart—you’re better able to fulfill your ministry to the world.

Continue reading to learn how to fulfill your ministry in service to God and others.

Fulfilling Your Ministry

God wants you to serve others—this is called ministry, the fourth purpose for your life. The way God planned for you to serve others is uniquely yours, and he calls you to fulfill your ministry throughout your lifetime.

Discover Your Unique SHAPE

Before you can fulfill your ministry, you must figure out what ministry you were made for. You can begin by examining your SHAPE: 

  • Spiritual gifts: Your spiritual gifts are capabilities that are gifted to you by God when you become a believer. Your spiritual gifts are not for your personal enjoyment—they are given to you so you can fulfill your ministry. 
  • Heart: Your heart includes everything you truly care about and what motivates or inspires you—dreams, goals, sources of joy, and so on. God gave you these particular interests to drive you toward the place you’ll best serve. You know that you’re doing something from your heart if you’re enthusiastic about it and are effective in it. 
  • Abilities: Abilities are things you’re naturally good at. They differ from spiritual gifts in that you’re born with them, and they were given to you for your personal enjoyment. Of course, they can be used to fulfill your ministry. God gives everyone abilities. If you think that you don’t have any, examine yourself more closely. No ability is insignificant. The Bible lists many different skills as “abilities,” including teaching, art, baking, farming, and making music. 
  • Personality: The type of service that best suits you depends heavily on what kind of person you are—there’s not a “wrong” or “right” way to fulfill your ministry, but there is the possibility of a service-personality mismatch. While you’re figuring out your ministry, you might observe the work of others, but be careful not to replicate their work, as it’s suited to their personality.
  • Experiences: God introduced all sorts of experiences into your life to shape who you’ve become and help you fulfill your ministry, such as your experiences growing up within your family, different job experiences, and painful experiences. Your painful experiences are generally the most helpful to your service, because they teach you empathy and make you more effective in helping others through suffering or pain.

Put Your SHAPE Together

The best ministry uses your whole SHAPE. You use your abilities and spiritual gifts in a way that aligns with your heart and personality—and a way that is supported by your experiences. Ask yourself what abilities align best with who you are, what you love to do, and what you know. 

Develop Your Servant’s Heart

Finding your unique ministry is the first vital part of serving others. The second is developing your servant’s heart, which allows you to fulfill your ministry unselfishly in whatever way God calls you. Your servant’s heart is made up of your character and attitude

  • Someone with a servant’s character makes themselves available to serve whenever it’s needed; sees things that need to be done without being asked; dedicates themselves fully to all their tasks; is reliable; and doesn’t expect praise for their work. 
  • Someone with a servant’s attitude always puts others’ needs first; recognizes that everything they have is a gift to be temporarily taken care of; doesn’t compete with others or compare ministries; doesn’t feel that any task is “beneath” them; and sees their ministry as an opportunity to express gratitude to God for all he’s given them.
How to Fulfill Your Ministry: Learn to Serve Others

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  • The meaning of life from a Christian perspective
  • The five purposes that you were created by God to fulfill
  • How to find the unique service you were made for

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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