How to serve your local community when your family member is sick

What does it look like for us to love and serve other people besides our family member with a chronic illness? Is it possible? Is it necessary?

how to serve your local community when your family member is sick #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

I’ve written previously about serving with a chronic illness, and serving overseas when someone you love has a chronic illness. But what about serving in your local church or community?

Should you serve your local community if your family member is sick?

If you are part of a local church or community, there are probably numerous opportunities to serve. Often during a Sunday morning worship service alone, you could potentially:

Play a musical instrument


Do a reading or announcement

Usher people in

Open up/lock up the building

Help in baby sit

Teach in Sunday school

Make coffee/tea

Clean up the kitchen/building

… and that’s all within the space of about two hours! Throughout the week there are often many other situations in which you can fulfil the Biblical commandment to serve and love one another.

Yet it’s not that easy, is it? Those of us who have a family member with a chronic illness can find all the opportunities to serve somewhat daunting. There is so much need… and yet perhaps we find ourselves ill-suited to fill it.

What to do when you have no time to serve

Loving and caring for someone with a chronic illness, whatever your role, is time-consuming.

It may not leave us with much free time to become involved with serving in our local church or volunteering as a leader at a kid’s camp or any of the myriad ways we can love and encourage those around us. Or perhaps we have the time, but not the emotional energy.

What do we do?

It’s going to look different in every situation. There’s no doubt the Bible calls us to practically love one another.

  1. Service starts at home

For some of us that will simply be loving our suffering family member or friend – and that’s okay. That’s service too, and it is no less important than any of the more ‘formal’ ways to serve. Sometimes it even demands a greater sacrifice – the sacrifice of serving alone, unnoticed and perhaps un-thanked.

  1. Don’t be afraid of small acts of service

For others we might need to look for less conventional ways of serving. Perhaps we cannot commit to babysitting once a week, but we can cook a meal for someone. Perhaps we cannot leave the house to serve at a soup kitchen, but we can send a few emails or do some cutting out or update a website.

how to serve your local community when your family member is ill _ #chronicillness #suffering #loneliness #caregiver #pain #caregiving #emotions #faith #God #Hope how to serve your local community when your family member is ill _ #chronicillness #suffering #loneliness #caregiver #pain #caregiving #emotions #faith #God #Hope

Four questions to ask before you start serving

Like everything our motives are important. So let’s ask ourselves:


Are we serving out of a genuine desire to love – or are we doing it because we feel obligated, or we don’t want to say no, or people keep asking us?


Are we serving at the detriment of our Loved One? Have we spoken to them about our role?


Would we be content not to serve in this way? Is God calling us to invest our time and energy in our Loved One instead, even though it may be harder and less glamorous?


Do we have the courage not to serve? It’s hard to turn down suggestions or look like the ‘lazy’ one or ‘less committed’ one when we do not visibly serve our community. Are we willing to do so in order to serve our Loved One properly?

Are we serving God first and trying to please people second?

This is how you serve your local community against the back drop of illness:

And so, if we are time poor and emotionally drained, can we still serve God’s people?

The answer is yes, if we broaden our idea of what service is, and question our motives.

Let God call you to service, don’t call yourself. It is ridiculous to ask more of yourself than what God is asking .

Yet at the same time, if we embrace tiny, inconspicuous acts of service and mission, there are many, many ways to love each other.

Service always starts at home and always extends beyond – for some of us that extension will be through prayer alone, but for many of us it will be in ways we have not yet imagined.

//Do you serve in your local community? Do you ever try and separate that from your service at home?

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Author: Emily J. M.

Hi, I'm Emily. Two of my closest family members struggle with chronic illness, and I watch them. That's hard, and so I write about life as a 'Watcher', what it looks like to support them and find Hope.

2 thoughts on “How to serve your local community when your family member is sick”

  1. Loved your post Emily. Well expressed and you have made a lot of very valid points here. Thanks for sharing. A carer’s life is not easy. Bless you for all you do. You are shining for Jesus through your life and through your writing. Well done. 🙂

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