Service for God is not like any other labor. It comes from people who have been changed by God and enabled to serve on a spiritual level, reflecting worship back to Him. "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Romans 12:1). "So that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:6).
Service for God is based on deep gratitude for an amazing Savior. "Serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you" (I Samuel 12:24). "Let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28). This gratitude should spark a deeply rooted desire. "Serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind" (I Chronicles 28:9). "I delight to do Your will, O my God" (Psalm 40:8).
A properly motivated Christian realizes that all service is ultimately for God. "Slaves, be obedient to . . . your masters . . . in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; . . . as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Ephesians 6:5-6). "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Colossians 3:17). "It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Colossians 3:24).
A rightly thinking servant knows that an all-seeing God will give all the reward that really matters. "And your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:4). "With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord" (Ephesians 6:7). "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:58).
Proper motivation comes from a heart of humility. "Serving the Lord with all humility" (Acts 20:19). "The one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant" (Luke 22:26). "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). The servant expects no credit, realizing that he is a mere instrument in the hand of God who does the work. "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth" (I Corinthians 3:6-7).
The humble servant willingly serves God and desires that ultimately all the glory go to the God who rightly deserves it. "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever" (I Peter 4:10-11). "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).
Even man's weakness, employed in service that would ordinarily be ineffective, is designed to glorify the God whose immense power brings success through inadequate vessels. "I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" (I Corinthians 2:3-5). "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God" (I Corinthians 1:27-29). "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (II Corinthians 12:9).
Should a believer not care at all how others evaluate his service or whether anyone else notices it? What about the pastor, for example, whose responsibilities include overseeing the ministries of the church and training leadership to assist in the service of the church?
In one sense, it should not matter at all what others think or see. If the believer is sincerely serving God with the right motives in the ministries to which God directs him, the evaluations of men do not matter. A servant might do something that no one else ever knows about, and that is okay. The primary benefit of someone else noticing and approving the work is that of confirmation that the servant has properly executed what God has asked of him. He can, however, accomplish that objective without the commendation of any human.
A spiritually discerning pastor or coworker will discern the same thing God discerns, making human approbation redundant of God's approbation. An onlooker who improperly discerns is unfortunate, but does not in any way diminish the effectiveness of the service or God's approval.
Either way, whether noticed and approved or not, the servant can glorify God. The God who sees all and who always properly evaluates will take care of the reward and of directing into future service.