the weblog of Alan Knox

Replay: We have permission to serve

Posted by on May 12, 2012 in service, spiritual gifts | 13 comments

Replay: We have permission to serve

Two years ago, I wrote a post called “Permission to Service.” The post was actually the conclusion to a short series on the topic of women serving. However, this post is not just about women. It’s about all of us. In Christ, we are all part of the New Covenant priesthood, and through his Holy Spirit, we are all called and empowered to serve God by serving others. In other words, we all have permission to serve. We do not have to get permission from anyone else. Your permission and your commission comes directly from God – who also directs you and empowers you to serve.


Permission to Serve

This post is the final post in my series on “women in ministry,” or, as I like to say, “women serving others.” (see “Spiritual Gifts and Women,” “Spiritually Gifted Women,” and “Women Serving in Context“) However, this post is not about women specifically. Instead, it’s about all of us, including women.

Originally, this post was titled “Serving for the Rest of Us.” But, my friend Wes from “a mission-driven life” left a comment on facebook about some of the previous points in this series. His comment gets to the point of this post, so I took the title from his comment, and even changed a few things in the post to go along with his comment. This is what Wes said:

[W]hat I really liked about the post is that you distinguish between gifts and offices. I agree with you. And while your post is about women, its also about other people, like me, who isn’t serving in an office, like elder or deacon, but who believes that I can still serve the church with the gifts God has granted me, without feeling like I need “permission” to serve.

Women and men are gifted by God through the Holy Spirit in various ways for various types of service and various opportunities to serve. God gives these spiritual gifts according to his will so that we can serve one another. When we serve one another, we bring glory to God.

When we use terms like “ministry” instead of “service,” we often make service into something that only certain people can do. If this perception hinders us from serving others, then we’ve missed something very important – important to ourselves and to others. In fact, not only are we missing something important to ourselves and others, but we are hindering the growth of the church, because the church grows when EACH believer is serving one another.

Thus, someone who is a child of God has been gifted by the Holy Spirit of God. That person has been ordained by God as a minister of God to serve other people. Failure to serve others would be similar to any other act of disobedience.

Certainly, there are contexts for service. I’ve briefly mentioned some of the passages of Scripture that could (and I think do) limit the contexts of women serving. However, there are other passages that limit the context of anyone serving. Women are not lesser servants because of certain passages any more than others are lesser servants because of other passages. The church NEEDS the service of all believers.

So, as a child of God, we are ministers together, and each of us is a minster separately. We have permission to serve. We have license to serve.

Those of us who are leaders in the church must make sure that we encourage everyone to serve, not just other leaders. Similarly, we should give opportunity for others to serve. This would include both speaking and non-speaking acts of service.

We also must realize that we are not perfect. None of us individually is perfect and we are not perfect as a group – whatever group we’re talking about. We must give each other grace and offer each other mercy as we attempt to serve one another. We will get it wrong on occasion.

Eventually, as we attempt to serve one another, someone is going to serve someone else in a manner that is considered to be incorrect. While we can help one another learn through these times (and, remember, we both need help, not just the one that we think is wrong), let’s also recognize the intent and purpose. If they purpose is trying to serve in love for the purpose of building up the body of Christ, then let’s glorify God for it!

If we only allow perfect service… then we’re in big trouble. Thank God that he is merciful and works through broken vessels. (And, before someone says it, yes, we should never be satisfied with our current level of imperfection, but should instead continue to disciple one another.)

So, to end this post where Wes began it: We have permission to serve.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-12-2012

    GREAT post, Alan! Little correction, para 6 reads, “because the church grows with EACH believer is serving one another.” I think that you meant “when” instead of “with”.

  2. 5-12-2012


    Thanks! I’ve corrected the typo.


  3. 5-12-2012

    Alan is it not important to serve from the Spirit of God, who is perfect and for us to learn this through failure of our flesh?
    Thus dying to our flesh daily, and thus working out of our recreated Spirit that is in agreemnet with God. flesh is not ever; only acts it out and is miserable behind clsed doors, yet God sees all and knows all.
    Yes we are free to serve, So the Question goes when we serve others is it from our flesh or from our spirit that is alive to God? flesh is truly in the way as we go on to say: in this order or that order, flesh is in the way brothers and sisters. there is no jew, no greek no gentile, no male, no fremale, from God’s vantage point we are all one in the spirit, there is no differance from God’s vantage point. But there is a differance seeing from the flesh aspect thus the world’s, and that always ends in corruption for then the soul is lost with no true life.

  4. 5-12-2012


    I think, if you read through this post again, you will find that I wrote about serving “through the Holy Spirit.”

    It is possible to serve God and others by the wrong motives and intentions, giving in to the desires of the flesh instead of walking in the Spirit. However, those who fail to serve God and others (regardless of motives or intentions) are giving in to the desires of the flesh and are not walking in the Spirit.


  5. 5-13-2012

    And God will work out ones salvation, even when it says work out your own with fear and trembling it goes on to say for it is God that does this. It takes God a while because he gave us free will waiting for those that are seeking him to find him fully through surrendering to him.
    Like being in a war and you are in a fox hole, the enemy you waive your white flag to, and then find out the enemy of giving up was not your enemy at all, and this is what it took to cross over from death to life, even though you thought you were going to your death. Those that try to save their life shall lose it, and those that will lose their live for his sake shall save it.
    Yes also I see your point about either way some are walking in the flesh, and nost probably do. All I am saying is lets seek after the spirit and grow in grace, and the flesh slowly waxes away

  6. 5-13-2012

    Speaking of wars and foxholes, it would be interesting for you to revisit those scriptures that are used to limit the roles of women in service. My roots have me abhorring denominations that allow women to be pastors, yet I am wrestling with a vague feeling that my method of understanding the common passages is flawed. “liberal” and “conservative” are labels, but the bigger question is whether the “faith once delivered” should allow subsequent adjustments based on fuller understanding of Scripture (not at all the same thing as changing doctrine to follow the winds of change and political correctness). [Any desire to put the fox in the henhouse?]

  7. 5-13-2012

    times have changed present day, and women are, have gone forth. I am not sure about it, but I keep hearing there is no jew, no greek, no gentile, no male, no female in the Spirit of God, and this is also scriptural. Here is another one it used to be you have to give tithes, now its tithes and offerings. in other words we do not care how we get your money, but we will get it, and scripture says you either love money or God cannot love both. There are many incongruities. So for me I am not going to dispute anything, it is not worth it and it only brings out flesh and blood along with the sword that peter used to cut off the ear that jesus healed instantly, knowing that his kingdom is not of this world, it is where he is seated at the right hand of God and where we the believers are seated together in the Spirit. Yet back down here on earth to represent the righteousness, the joy, and the peace in the Holy Ghost as ambassadors, not being a part of this world any longer

  8. 5-13-2012


    I written a few posts about women and serving and spiritual gifts. I don’t write much about various “church offices” because I don’t believe Scripture lays out anything like the modern “church offices.” And, when people ask about women in “ministry”, they are usually referring to those “offices.” There are a couple of passages in which Paul limits the service of women (or certain women perhaps) in some contexts. What are those contexts? Well, that is the big questions, isn’t it?


    Yes, like Paul says in Galatians, when it comes to salvation, there is no difference between male and female, Jew and Greek, slave and free… all are saved through Jesus Christ.


  9. 5-14-2012

    Yes and we all are made alive in the Spirit. So I say let us wake every day and say thank you and walk by this born again spirit and we shall not fill the lusts of the flesh. galatians 5:16-26

  10. 5-14-2012

    Well that certainly simplifies things…if you don’t believe in “church offices” as they are today than you have no issue with whether women fill them or not!
    I was interested in your in-passing comment that you think there might be some restrictions on the role of women because that seems to be one area where those who hold to Scripture’s authority seem to come out on both sides. I just wondered how you got where you are (assuming your slightly-tentative-sounding comments arise out of having “arrived” at a position).

  11. 5-14-2012

    So if you know you are complete in Christ, what other issues can there be? Oh yes, flesh and blood, which is only milk. The meat is in the Spirit, dead to flesh and blood. As all believers from what I see through experience are from God’s vantage point, but I along with many have or had trouble in believing they are this way through the operation of God the Father of Christ. again the Spirit makes no mistake, flesh and blood is wishy washy and forever in doubt, as well as debates, so fact is fact. Do you think that God wants any of us to walk by flesh and blood? So then start believiing you are dead to it and sin will not reign in your mortal bodies.
    Thanks Howard

  12. 5-15-2012


    Yes. And when we find we are not walking in the Spirit, we immediately submit to him and turn away from ourselves.


    As with most things that I read in Scripture, there are some parts that I think I understand well, and there are other parts that I do not understand as well. I understand from Scripture that women were serving and were part of the “one anothers” that we read about. I also understand that there were some limitations on that service. I don’t understand all the contexts and situations involved. I’m confident that God will guide us together into how he wants us to interact if we trust him and not our own understanding.


  13. 5-15-2012

    Alan Knox says:


    Yes. And when we find we are not walking in the Spirit, we immediately submit to him and turn away from ourselves.

    Continue this long enough and then more and more we become like him without pride and boasting, I find it humbles all the more

    Absolutely Alan 100% in agreemant it is amazing how the Holy spirit of truth is pulling all of us together, trials and tribulations counting it all joy, along with what you said to Tom