Servanthood

Whatever You Did

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

 

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It’s Not About Me

It’s not about me. It’s not about my own glory, or about how many awards I can garner for my own display. It’s about treating others as the treasured creation God has made them to be, laying down my life to glorify God by honoring the work of his hands—the people he so loves.

 

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To Be a Blessing

Whenever I do something to bless someone else, I am blessing my Maker.

 

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Forgotten Purpose

As the leaves shed their summer clothes in exchange for fall apparel, I’m reminded of childhood autumn days snuggling under my warm comforter as crisp air drifted through my bedroom, mingled with the sound of the high school marching band practicing for the upcoming football game. Soon I would break free from my quilted cocoon, join the leaves in donning my seasonal clothing and walk with my family the short few blocks to the game.

In those days, the band was a permanent fixture at athletic events, fall and winter. They knew their purpose: motivate the home team by means of music. Rouse the fans to cheer their team to victory. Set the environment for another win. And have fun doing it.

Things changed by the time I stepped onto the high school scene. The bleachers were often empty where the band used to sit. And halftime was unusually quiet.

Instead of faithfully stirring the fans and supporting the team, the band was busy participating in various competitions throughout the region in hopes of garnering their own victory. Rather than helping the team gain another state trophy, the band was set on filling its own trophy case. And fans were torn between rallying behind their team at the game or the band at its own competition.

Whispers floated through the hallway—silent laments that our school no longer had a band to encourage our teams. Questions of whether our slow descent from athletic glory resulted in part from the lack. Wonders of what suitable thing could fill the gap our band had left in its absence.

When did existing to serve others become insufficient? When did not having awards to validate their efforts become a false sign of insignificance? When did being in the shadows of the limelight become less than enough?

It seems to be the mantra of our generation—that our efforts are futile if unrewarded. That the privilege of helping another is minimized if unaccompanied by accolades of our own greatness. That we exist solely for the purpose of glorifying ourselves and cease to exist if not applauded by the masses.

When our sole purpose revolves around ourselves, we breed contempt for our fellow human beings. They become mere hindrances to our own success. And we lose sight of the reason for our existence.

I found life when I found my purpose—to serve the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, and who also created me for a reason. It might sound selfish on God’s part that he created me to serve him, but it’s not selfish at all when you understand that we serve him when we help others. Whenever I do something to bless someone else, I am blessing my Maker.

It’s not about me. It’s not about my own glory, or about how many awards I can garner for my own display. It’s about treating others as the treasured creation God has made them to be, laying down my life to glorify God by honoring the work of his hands—the people he so loves.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

 

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Living to Serve

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But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

 

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Who’s Holding Who?

Blog_HoldingHandsThough my 3-year old son insists he’s “bigger now” and can “do everything” without my help, I still want to hold his hand when we cross the street. He typically yanks his hand away to emphasize his independence. “No, Mommy…I can do it myself!”

While I don’t doubt his capacity to cross the street without assistance, I do question his understanding of the potential dangers of oncoming cars. And so I’ve changed strategies. Instead of asking him to hold my hand, I ask if he’ll let me hold his. “Mommy needs your help,” I tell him. “Can you protect me from the cars?”

Being the little gentleman that he is, he quickly takes my hand, smile on his dimpled face, and leads me like a little pro. Smart as he is, he hasn’t come to suspect my ulterior motives. I don’t need his help; he needs mine. In the end, I’m the one leading him, not the other way around.

It’s much the same when God calls us to serve. Does he who created the heavens and earth need our help to keep the world spinning? Yet he’s chosen to work through frail humanity, and as he does we become increasingly aware of our dependence on him.

As we navigate life’s challenges, we may be tempted to say, “It’s okay, I can do it myself!” God lets us move forward until we realize how impossible it is apart from his help. We look up and see that all the while, he was holding our hand, leading us, showing us our need for his intervention.

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

 

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Writing and Servanthood

Blog_TypewriterRibbonWhat do you picture when you hear the word servant? Probably not a person sitting at a computer keyboard. The more typical image associated with servanthood would be a person tending to the sick or helping in the food line at a soup kitchen. Or maybe you picture someone on their hands and knees, scrubbing a dirty floor or washing filthy feet. And such people truly are servants.

But did you ever think that you could serve through writing? I didn’t used to think so. After working all day at an inner city outreach, I’d come home hungry to write, yet feeling a tinge of guilt that I wasn’t doing something more worthy of a servant. Though I’d be up late into the night for days on end, wrestling for the right words, I was convinced that those doing the more evidently sacrificial works were the only real servants.

True servanthood is using your gifts, whatever they may be, to bless others. Yes, there are times we’ll be called out of our comfort zones to serve in less-than-ideal settings. Yet if your gift of words will challenge, encourage, or inspire others, it is a pure act of service.

I’m grateful for those nameless ancient scribes who translated scriptures that we might have wisdom for today. I’m grateful for those authors who speak encouragement from beyond the grave because they devoted themselves to pouring out their lives in ink. I’m grateful for those living servants who write words in season for our generation.

To be a servant is to invest your talents for the benefit of others. It’s to sacrifice your time and resources that others may reap from your labors. For those who write, your words may travel to places where even the greatest missionary could never go. And they may touch lives even the most devoted of servants could never reach.

 

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