Maybe I’m alone on this, but if I’m going to have surgery, I prefer a surgeon who’s done more than read articles on WebMD. I want a doctor who’s actually held a scalpel before. And I prefer to fly on airlines that don’t limit their pilot requirements to those who know how to transport people on a Greyhound bus.

Knowledge, skill, and experience are important in so many areas of life—and we assume they are also needed for the Christian life.

Not necessarily.

  • I’ll start serving when I have grown more in my faith.
  • I’ll tell others about Jesus when I’ve mastered a gospel presentation and can say it with confidence.
  • I’ll lead a group when I know more about the Bible.

We don’t have to have a mature faith before we can serve in the kingdom of God. In fact, we grow when we serve.

The apostle Paul said there are certain roles in the church designed to equip people for works of service. There is nothing that says a person must learn and grow intellectually before he can serve.

“And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12).

That has certainly been my experience—and it goes all the way back to the seventh grade.

If you’ve ever taught seventh-grade boys, you’re an exceptional person. I once heard Dr. Phil Briggs, retired professor at Southwestern Seminary, call seventh graders “electric chihuahuas.”

That’s why I admire Jim Burns. Mr. Burns taught my Sunday School class when I was in the seventh grade. We were the typical group of emerging adolescents: cracking voices, discovering girls don’t have cooties, and slugging each other every ten minutes—just because. Each week Mr. Burns tried to teach biblical truth to 10-15 boys high on Sunday School doughnuts. I don’t remember if, on this one particular morning, we were especially rambunctious—maybe one of us accidentally slugged him—but at the end of class, he asked, “Why don’t you teach the class next week?”

He was looking straight at me.

Being a seventh-grade boy—which means I didn’t think this through—I said I would. So I took the book he gave me and I read. I actually prepared—and that’s saying something because I rarely took the time to brush my teeth. And on the next Sunday, in spite of all my squirreliness, I led my peers in Bible study.

And 49 years later, I am still leading Bible studies. I’d like to think I’ve gotten a little better at it, but it was in the process of teaching, I actually learned to teach. I want to be ever learning and ever improving, but as I learn, I continue to serve. And when I serve, I grow.

Don’t wait. Start serving now. And as you serve, you will be growing in Christ.

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