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Giving back to the community has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was in grade school, I loved to help the teacher clean up before recess and after school. In middle school my height and agility were nice additions to the school basketball team. Cheerleading, chorus and student council at my high school were fun activities I enjoyed that also served others. I also joined my foster family in volunteering at my younger brother and sister’s school during their basketball games on Saturdays.

During my childhood years, I served for different reasons. Sometimes during elementary school I didn’t want to go home, so I had to find a legitimate reason to stay at school. In middle school, being popular and winning was important so I played basketball to achieve those goals. In high school my desire was to make my foster parents glad they welcomed me into their home and have the right extracurricular involvement on my college applications. When I reestablished my relationship with God after leaving college it was less than three months before I was on the hospitality ministry at church. I was overjoyed to learn despite everything I’d done God still wanted to use me.

I went on to serve as an intercessor and on several other ministries based on my gifts and talents when I joined a new church to be with my husband. I served because I believed I owed God something. I offered my gifts under compulsion. While serving, I encountered two leadership styles—some leaders offered wisdom, love and prayers to those who served under them. Some of the leaders used intimidation, shame and guilt.

After years of serving on a ministry led by someone using the second leadership style, I found myself serving in pain. I began to resent the ministry and wondered why I was going to church at all. My desire to be in a relationship with the Lord hadn’t changed but I began to question the reasons why I served. This led me to several years of intercession and study at a new level. Before we left that church I repented to God for using my gifts and giving him my time out of guilt and under compulsion. I knew I shouldn’t serve for any of the reasons I’d done it as a child or out of guilt, shame or as a result of someone abusing their spiritual authority.

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Daily Devotional: “What’s Your Motivation?”  was originally published on