To Serve, We Must First Nourish Our Own Souls | Sojourners

To Serve, We Must First Nourish Our Own Souls

When you truly experience the love of God, there is nothing you won’t do for God. When you are truly thankful for salvation, no place is off limits to share the gospel. When you read Matthew 25, you are willing to dwell in any environment to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Our compassion compels us to love without conditions and work beyond the hours of Sunday morning.

We see the necessities of the people, so we respond with passion and purpose. However, we often push ourselves beyond measure and forget to allow God to nurture and nourish our own souls, so that we are able to pour out into others.

Jesus, the Son of God, regularly took time alone to pray to God. If Jesus, being God in the flesh, needed time to rejuvenate and to seek the face of God, then how much more do we need to refresh and rejuvenate by spending time alone with the Lord. I believe that we will spiritually die serving in ministry if we do not seek the face of God. We cannot share with others what we do not have to give.

It’s like a carafe of water. A carafe constantly transfers its contents. However, if it is not refilled it has nothing to offer. The more we minister to the “least of these,” the more time we need to spend with God. It is imperative for us. If we want to flourish in our relationship with the Lord and in ministry, we need God. We need to devote time to the Lord.

I’ve seen countless sisters and brothers serving in the trenches resign because they are exhausted and burned out. I’ve met others who leave because it wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be. I’ve even seen some who quit because they became frustrated with the lack of results. In my experience, serving with inner-city ministries or caring for the “least” and “lost” can be romanticized. It can become a trend, instead of a way of life.

When people witness the challenges of this ministry, many simply cannot, or will not, go on.

Why? Because they have not labored in prayer, studied the scriptures, or spent enough time with God. They are trying to serve in their own strength and power, which we were never intended to do. They are creating programs based on their own ideas and intellect, instead of the inspiration of God.

We can only serve and love one another with the help of God. We can only go forward and remain committed with the help of God. Our ministries will not flourish unless we unfailingly connect with the One who empowers us and gives us strength.

I suggest setting aside time every day to spend with the Lord. It is important to quiet ourselves before God to reflect on the scriptures and to remind ourselves who we serve.

It is also good to regularly connect with others who can encourage us in our faith journey. We need to meet, pray, talk and laugh with others to feed our soul. I have found that reading great books also provides much comfort, grace, and knowledge that helps me keep going when I want to give up. I am constantly surrounding myself with worship music, sermons, and inspirational quotes to restore my spirit. My sisters and brothers, fulfilling our call to serve is vital, but sustaining a strong connection with God is paramount.

Carmille Akande is a licensed attorney and minister who spends her time visiting prisons, homeless shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes sharing the love of Jesus. Carmille blogs at and you can follow her on Twitter @CarmilleAkande.

Image: Teenage girl enjoy with sunshine in wheat field. Via oksik/Shutterstock.