As the title of this post explains, our mindset matters. What we think about ourselves will influence how we serve in the church. Allow me to explain.
If you are a Christian, you are a member of the body of Christ. As a member of the body, God has given you one or more spiritual gifts to use to serve the body within the context of a local church. When each part of the body properly works together, the body builds itself up in love, and the body grows stronger and stronger (Ephesians 4:16).
Unfortunately, not every part of the body always works properly. Sometimes, church members don’t serve as they should. Sometimes they don’t serve at all.
Whenever that happens, it’s likely that these church members have adopted certain mindsets that have made them either unproductive or even counterproductive. In other words, what they think about themselves affects how they serve in the church. We find three of these mindsets outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:15-24.
The Unproductive Mindset: “They Don’t Need Me”
In 1 Corinthians 12:15-16, Paul writes, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,’ it is not for that reason any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,’ it is not for that reason any less a part of the body.”
Paul uses two illustrations here to describe the mindset of the unproductive church member. The foot and the ear recognize that their function is not as glamorous as the hand or the eye. Since they can’t perform these functions, they become envious of those who can, and they (falsely) conclude that they are not a part of the body and are not needed.
Sound familiar? Through a combination of dissatisfaction with their own spiritual gifts and role in the church, along with low-level jealousy of the spiritual gifts and position of others, unproductive church members mistakenly conclude that they are not a part of the church. If they stopped serving, no one would notice or care. In other words, they convince themselves, “The church doesn’t need me.”
When a church member adopts this mindset, it’s usually not long before they stop serving. Some stop attending altogether. This member of the body becomes an unproductive church member. And the whole body suffers.
The Counterproductive Mindset: “I Don’t Need Them”
In 1 Corinthians 12:21, Paul continues, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” In this verse, Paul describes the mindset of the counterproductive church member.
If the first mindset describes the church member who lacks confidence, this mindset describes the church member who has too much confidence. This church member believes they can serve the church in almost any capacity, and they can do so better than anyone else. Furthermore, this person may secretly look down on the spiritual gifts of others. They might feel right at home with those in the Corinthian church who believed they possessed the “super” spiritual gifts.
When this mindset is present, these church members try to do too much. Some do so eagerly while others do so out of obligation, but the result is the same. These church members end up serving in ways in which they are not gifted. They often suffer seasons of fatigue and burnout. Meanwhile, other church members remain on the sidelines. By doing so, a person with this mindset inadvertently becomes a counterproductive church member. And the whole body suffers.
The Biblically Productive Mindset: “We Need Each Other”
Paul’s response to both mindsets was that although the church is one body, it includes many members (1 Corinthians 12:17-20). And while some of those members may appear weaker or less honorable, they are actually indispensable (1 Corinthians 12:22-24). Therefore, every part of the body is necessary. Every part of the body is essential. Every part of the body is vital. Every part is needed to accomplish God’s plan and specific mission for your church.
This is the mindset of the biblically productive church member. This church member rightly understands that “we need each other.” You cannot fulfill God’s plan for your church in isolation. You can’t do it by yourself, but your fellow church members can’t do it without you either. It takes the whole body working together.
When this mindset is prevalent among members within a local church, you’ll recognize much spiritual fruit. Church members will humbly and joyfully serve one another. They will be characterized by love and unity of purpose. When one member suffers, all members will suffer with them. When one member is honored, all will rejoice together.
A person who adopts this mindset will soon become a biblically productive church member. And the whole body grows stronger!
Which Mindset is Yours?
Now comes the hard part of this post. As you read through the descriptions of these three mindsets, which one best describes you?
Are you an unproductive church member? Have you somehow convinced yourself that you’re not needed in your church? If so, spend some time in 1 Corinthians 12. May the Lord begin to change your mind, and may you find the place where He has most gifted you to serve Him within the church.
Are you a counterproductive church member? Have you convinced yourself that you don’t need others? If so, spend some time in 1 Corinthians 12 as well. May the Lord begin to change your mind, and may you also find the place where He has most gifted you to serve Him within the church.
Are you a biblically productive church member? Have you embraced the biblical understanding that we need each other? If so, you’ll also benefit from spending time in 1 Corinthians 12. May the Lord continue to remind you of this biblical understanding, and may you continue to find joy in humbly and faithfully serving Him within the church!