I want to serve the purpose of God

Why don't we sing this song anymore? I woke up singing it this morning, and as I considered the words, I was struck by how powerful it is:

I want to serve the purpose of God in my generation
I want to serve the purpose of God while I am alive
I want to give my life for something that will last forever
Oh, I delight, I delight to do Your will

I want to build with silver and gold in my generation
I want to build with silver and gold while I am alive
I want to give my life for something that will last forever
Oh, I delight, I delight to do Your will

What is on Your heart?
Tell me what to do
Let me know Your will
And I will follow You

I want to see the Lord come again in my generation
I want to see the Lord come again while I am alive
I want to give my life for something that will last forever
Oh, I delight, I delight to do Your will

In one sense, I can understand it; because it focusses on us and what we want, rather than on the Lord and who he is, it does not naturally fit into a worship setting. But on the other hand, as a public declaration of purpose it is fantastic, and captures some of the radical edge that we sorely need at this time, or indeed any time. We do not live for ourselves, we live for him and for his kingdom. With every fibre of our being we seek to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us. If we capture this reality, all our petty grumbles and complaints that can so often preoccupy our time would be replaced with a passion for Christ and his kingdom. Ironically, although this song focusses upon me and what I want, it is actually a great tonic to put my selfish desires to death and replace them with Christ. It's a radical song for a radical people, not to be sung lightly because God takes us at our word!

I don't want to give my life for anything less than Christ and his Kingdom.


Anna Sacha said...

great song, indeed!!

Ricky Carvel said...

Over the years I have been leading worship I have observed that that song only really found favour in our generation - i.e. those who are now thirtysomethings. In my experience kids don't like it and older folks don't like it. And, of course, the current crop of teens and twentysomethings consider it to be an old song.

There are four reasons I've never been particularly fond of it, the first is (as you say) the empahsis on me, me, me. It is all about us and not about Jesus (for the verse at least).

The 2nd is the wording of the chorus which is a bit demanding, and it implies this sense to me: if You don't tell me what is on Your heart, I'll just do nothing...

The 3rd is wooliness of verses 2 and 3. OK, having a desire to serve the purpose of God is great, but wanting to build with silver and gold is pretty vague, and wanting to see the Lord come again in this generation is an OK desire, but of course we have no guarantee that He will return within our lifetime.

Finally, the 4th reason is the slur of notes at the end of the opening line - its just not a good tune.

Hmmm, didn't mean to be so negative there. Why not post an article about a song like 'Blessed be Your name' and I'll be able to enthuse about it! :o)

Chris HH said...

Thanks for the comments, Ricky. And welcome to my blog! [Ricky is an old friend of mine from when we were both wee lads!]

I guess that answers my question!! ;-) Still, it's a shame, because despite all it's faults, this song has always been special to me. It may not be a musical masterpiece, but it captures something.

Any suggestions for a better song that captures the same sentiment?

Roger said...

This is a song that demands something from us - laying down our self-centred existence to give ourselves to the purpose for which we were created. It is ignored because it cuts against the me/me/me generation of Christians who have little or no idea of the plan of the Father for his redeemed family. 'I want to see the Lord come again in my generation' - that's what I gave my life for many years ago and still live for it today. Chris: this song says it all. Thanks for bringing it out again. Keep singing it, because I know you live it.

Sarah Blake said...

I'm a twentysomething and although this is an old song, its still powerful. Like Roger said, it demands something of us. I want it to be said of me as it was of David, that he served the purpose of God in his generation! And so I have to check myself whenever I'm singing it... do I really mean this?! I know God will hold me to account for what I declare to him!!
There's a good challenge for a Friday morning!

adam hartshorn said...

Hi Chris

Do you have this song on cd or mp3 ???

if you do i love to borrow it.

Matthew said...

Chris, this song is probably a good one for a debate on the importance of the music element of songs (among other things). In my observation, long-lived songs have 2 common strands: strongly scritpure-based lyrics and a simple melody.

20 or so years ago this was a great song, it caught the moment on the pilgrimage of certain parts of the Church and was a powerful tool not primarily for worship so much as declaration and identity.

The heart of the song is still powerful, but the difficulties of the music mean that unless you have already been gripped by the message you will probably not put the effort in to using the song.

The fact the the song is a response to the Word rather than a statement of the word is the other factor that I think shortens its lifespan.

This is not to say I think we should give up and not use such songs - especially if they have something to say that more contemporary songs are not saying; however I think we should more be looking to "sing new songs" of our pilgrimage and occasionally draw from songs that have served as "Ebinezers" of the journey so far.

A bit rambling - sorry about that!

JFBEagle said...

Hi - picked you up on Google, trying to find an audio file of the song.
I have been given this as a song by the preacher to serve as the closing song as the response to the word. This is almost the only place the words would be appropriate in a worship service.

But the music leaves you hanging at the end - both the verse and chorus end on a dominant seventh not a good chord to send people on their way with.

But I will work on it with my band and find a way to find a positive way to close off.

Matthew said...

The only way I know to have a resolved ending to this song is to play to 2nd section as normal and then for the last 3 notes (fol-low you) sing them all as whole notes on b - c# - d over chords IV,V,I. Hope that helps (and isn't too late!)

Eric Savage said...

I think the music style is not as dated as some mention here. I came across this song recently and will include it in our worship set for tomorrow. It's not self-centered at all - I will follow the song with Matt Redman's "I will offer up my life", just to drill home the point.

What I will do though is to change the rhythm in the chorus, give it kind of open half-beat style in contrast to the verses. This will make the chorus sound more thoughtful. As for the end of the last chorus ... hmmm... need to throw in such extra words there.

sharon said...

Hi i was just really moved in prayer and intercession and at the end i had this song in mind, and thought wow haven't heard it for ages, so i just googled it and found your post. I'm currently going through a revival of my spirit as i've had my mind renewed through the word of God helped by great speakers such as Bill Johnson and Andrew Wommack, I think as we get excited about who God is and what He's achieved in and for us by the cross, great songs like these will be revived in us, But when i first became a christian these were popular songs in a time of great 'doing for the Lord' but unfortunately this doing could easily be done in the flesh and not in the spirit, so we did great works of service, but rarely showed people Jesus and if we did introduce people to God it was more to His judgement than his grace. I think these sons will come alive again as we come to them in the spirit and not in the flesh of just serving God. Another great song in the same line is 'For I'm building a people of power and of praise ....' God bless you, ps do you know maged and rose kalta - me and my husband did our YWAM dts at the base in nuneaton a few years ago and i have a feeling the leaders there go to your churh. Sharon

Help me please said...

I been searching for a really long time for someone to help me figure out what I need to do sorry for leaving such a comment on your pages just trying to find someone out there to help me

Simon said...

we are singing the song next Sunday in our monthly All Age Worship gathering :-)

was looking for the words and found this post, thanks!

Anonymous said...

we will be having our youth service 29th november..theme...I want to serve the purpose of God in my generation....interesting comments about song...

Anonymous said...

We sang this song last Sunday. It really spoke to me - as I was living my life 'sold out 100%' back at the time it came out 20 years ago. It was my mantra - along with Micah 6:8 (which I had printed on a white sweatshirt that I wore constantly).

I spoke to a few people after the service and overall their response was negative to the song - i was a bit shocked to be honest. One talked about theit theological differences with the 'kingdom' teaching - suggesting it was not doctrinally correct. The other said 'yes, but we have to live in this world and get up every morning and plan our lives'.

I think this reaction is why the song is not played - I don't find it musically challenging to sing. I do find it incredibly challenging to live by.

Anonymous said...

If we put a positive meaning to the lyrics, not the word-for-word meaning, it is a faith response song.It is an expression of conviction to serve God, in the generation of the person-that's totally laying down the whole life and with regards to gold/silver that is the quality of service or worship -excellence that is!
cause serving and worshipping the Lord should really come from wanting it with all of your being fully dedicated. Thanks for posting the song.