/ Nathan Eshelman

Very Able Servants in the Church?

There are hundreds of names in the Books of Chronicles, hundreds of those who served the Lord and were a part of the godly heritage making up what we call the church. In the midst of those hundreds of names, there is a short comment from the chronicler making note of one family’s abilities in the service of God.

First Chronicles 9:13 records that this family included “…very able men for the work of the service of the house of God.” That’s an interesting phrase: “very able men.” Hopefully all of us would desire to be found “very able” under the blessing of God. But clearly this was not very common in the service of God. Not all are very able.

This is the only list in both books of the Chronicles that are designated with this description. Out of hundreds of church-working families—only this one was seen as very able. What does that tell us about the work that each of us have to do in the life of the church? The fact that the Word of God reminds us that this one was able leads us to conclude that there are those who are NOT very able in the service of God. There are people in the church who are not able to serve...or less politely, they choose not to.

Some of us call it the 80-20 principle; others call it the 90-10 principle. Either way, somewhere between 10 and 20% of the people in the pews are doing 80-90% of the work that the church has to get done. Not all are very able for the service of the house of God.

Folding bulletins; cleaning toilets; putting away song books; setting up chairs; passing out tracts; maintaining the website…you get the idea.

There is so much work to do in the life of any congregation. 

We live in a time where many are consumer minded. What can I get from the sermon? What opportunities are for my children? Does the music meet my tastes? Are the people like me? How can I be served? These are the wrong questions—these are not the questions of “very able men” but the questions of consumers; the questions of not-able-servants.

Several months ago a godly family was considering joining the congregation that I pastor. The husband was a PhD and had a great job. The mom homeschooled a whole pile of kids. They were thoroughly reformed, pious, and much kinder than I am—and truthfully he would have been quickly considered as elder material (at least by me). But they did not stay at the church. They decided to go to another confessionally reformed church about 20 miles from us.

Why did they decide to unite with that particular congregation? He told me that there were more needs at the other congregation and therefore more opportunity for them to serve.

I hated and loved that answer at the same time. 

Not all are very able in the service of the house of God—but this family’s answer exemplified those who would be listed among the very able servants in the pews.

How would you be listed if the chronicler got to your name? How would you be recorded?Would you be given the special notation that you were “very able?” Would you be noted as a selfless servant to the king—even a happy doorman (Psalm 84:10)—or would you be another consumer who comes to church to be served a good sermon and then served a good lesson in Sabbath School and then served a good fellowship lunch and then served… then served….then served?

It’s worth the examination.

The Lord Jesus came to serve, not to be served. Jesus is the most-of-all-servant in the service of the house of the Lord. But he calls his people to serve as well. How can you serve?

When you think of all of the work that your congregation has to do, how are you being an able servant?

Ask your pastor what you can do to help in the life of the church. He will be overjoyed—servants are less available than you think.

Ask your elders what you can do to serve the church. They will have ideas.

Ask your deacons what you can do to serve in the church—they will have a ready list, I am sure.

How can you serve? Are you very able in the service of the house of God?

Nathan Eshelman

Nathan Eshelman

Pastor in Orlando, studied at Puritan Reformed Theological & Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminaries. One of the chambermen on the podcast The Jerusalem Chamber. Married to Lydia with 5 children.

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