This is a refreshing and revitalising book about serving God. It's refreshing because it's so honest. The second chapter begins like this, "I often feel weary, discouraged or bitter in serving Jesus… This is a realistic summary of my heart most days." Tell me the last time you read anything like that in a book about living the Christian life.
John Hindley is a church leader who writes for others in Christian leadership of all kinds. In most churches 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. This book is for the 20%. That committed, heroic, weary and discouraged 20%. The book is to remind us that the easiest trap to fall into is rule-based religion, where we convince ourselves that the more tired we get, the happier God is with us.
So John Hindley leads us by the hand to a better place, a place where serving God is joyful, where we can know the truth of the promise of Jesus, that when we come to him weary and burdened he will give us rest. The journey through the book starts with recovering our view of God and of ourselves. It then reminds us of the rich promises in the Bible of who we are as friends and children of God, and his spotless bride.
The most profound section of the book for me is the description of Jesus as the one who comes to serve us. To be told that Jesus "serves you each day more than you serve Him. We are served, not servants" made me consider again the privilege of being in Jesus. It's easy to accept that "Jesus came to serve" but much more difficult to say, "Jesus came to serve me". That's one insight that I won't forget from this book.
The book is brief and to the point, an easy read. I can forgive its slightly formulaic structure because it does let us know where the author is heading from the beginning and its simplicity is clearly designed for busy people.
"Serving without sinking" is a book for our time, when many church workers are struggling. It's a reminder that our service is only in response to the one who first served us. Buy it as a gift for your pastor or group leader and don't forget to keep on praying for all who are called to serve.
Wayne Clarke is the minister of New North Road Baptist Church, Huddersfield