How to Serve God with Passion

Written By: Dr. Ravae Wilson


May 22, 2024

What’s something you love to do? If someone were to ask you about your hobbies or talents, how would you respond?

Think about it for a minute. Pretend there’s some type of you’re-on-hold music playing in the background right now. Got an answer? Good. Now, let me pose another question to you:

How are you going use your answer to glorify God and serve His Church?

If you’ve spent any amount of time in any church, you’ve probably heard about the importance of getting involved and serving. The Bible itself tells us to use the abilities we’ve been given to serve our church and community:

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” — 1 Peter 4:10

But how do we do that? Where do we even begin?

Serving in the Church can feel intimidating. We may question if we are the right person for the role or if we’ll do a good job. Maybe we’re even wondering how the things we’re good at could even be utilized for serving. If you’ve ever wrestled with where you might “fit in” when it comes to serving, then I want to introduce you to Ben Kelly — someone who jumped at the opportunity to channel his passion for basketball into ministry.

On any given Saturday during the winter months, you’ll find families packed into the gyms at Woodside Troy, watching their kids compete in Upward Basketball.

Upward is a program that partners with churches to bring youth sports into local communities and promote the discovery of Jesus through the impact of sports. So, when Ben, who was attending Woodside with his wife, Kathy, heard about the opportunity to serve his church while playing basketball, he was all in.

I’ve loved basketball my whole life,” Ben said. “[So, when] the opportunity was there to share Jesus and be around basketball — I’m in.”

And “all in” he’s been. Ben has served as a coach for Upward for the past 15 years — all the while building relationships with kids, getting to know their families, and helping them grow in their love for basketball and Jesus.

The opportunity you have to pour into kids’ lives, build relationships, and watch them develop and grow in their faith — it’s moving,” Ben remarked. “You watch kids who would never speak up start to share and gain confidence — in the game too!”

Today, serving at Upward has become a ministry for the entire Kelly family.

It’s a [family] bonding experience because we know that every Monday night and Saturday morning, we’re going to be in the gym playing basketball and learning about the Bible,” Ben said. “My oldest is now a referee, so it gives her an opportunity to serve. Overall, it’s a way for my family to be around the game of basketball and continue growing in our faith [while] sharing the Gospel with others.”

Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus setting the ultimate example of what it means to serve others. Matthew 20: 28 tells us that Jesus came not to be served but to serve — giving His life up for many. As we read through the accounts of our Savior’s life in the Bible, there are countless verses that show Jesus doing just that. So, if we know Jesus is all about serving and, as believers, we’re supposed to be like Him, then I think it’s quite obvious that we should be serving the world around us too.

So where is God calling you to serve?

If you’re not convinced that you can use your talents, favorite sport, hobby, or passion to serve God, Ben would tell you to:

JUMP IN. God will use your effort and bless your intent. I never thought that 15 years later, this is where I’d be: serving [in a way] that combines the Gospel and investing in kids’ lives with playing basketball — something I love. I’m so incredibly fortunate to serve God in this way.”

If you are looking for ways to get involved or find a place to serve, we’ve got a place for you! Visit to learn more!

Upward is the best” — Ben Kelly