Hi All! Ahhhh, it’s July! So busy this month, but how thankful I am for this Beyond the Block series! I think the big man upstairs knew just the ticket for keeping me grounded this year, amidst all my big projects and hectic family schedule, I’m pulled back each month to slow down, ponder, and re-examine some things. What a blessing! If it weren’t for this monthly commitment, I know I would surely get distracted and not dedicate this much-needed personal time. Thanks for joining in with me!
So this month we’re stitching up a pretty cross/star combo that I’m calling “Serve” in honor of our personal challenge to BE…a Servant.
Webster’s dictionary defines a “servant” as “a person in the service of another.” To serve is to render assistance, to be of use, to help. Yes, helping others is good. My heart knows this. But when I look to the Bible for instruction, I receive an even stronger call toward service- I Peter 4:10 tells me “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” In fact, not only does it call me to use my gifts to serve others, but if I look at Christ’s example, I’m actually to be…well, a slave. Mark 10:44 says “And whoever wishes to be most important and first in rank among you must be a slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many.” Time and time again, this message is repeated: “The greatest among you shall be your servant” -Matthew 23:11
So, we should serve. What does that mean? I think it boils down to a really foundational concept: Humility. No matter where I look, humility seems to be the key to practically everything. Respect, compassion, gratitude, generosity- they all stem from humility. Last is first. Lowest is highest. It’s about understanding and living the reality that I am no better than anyone else, that my needs aren’t more important than anyone else’s. Yes, I want to thrive and succeed just like everyone else. I want to meet my own needs and to follow my dreams. Can I do this at the same time that I’m striving to humble myself and to serve others?
I know the answer is yes, and the beautiful thing is that the two are inseparably linked! The more I give, the more full I will be. It seems contradictory, but what oh what a truth it is.
So what does this mean for me? I know I am called to serve others, but how does this translate into my everyday life? I’m a busy mom. I’m already serving my kids and my husband every day, right? I want to go deeper, so what does this really look like? Must I join the Salvation Army and volunteer in soup kitchens every day of the week? Here are some realistic starting points that I think I can build on as I embark on this challenge to think of others before myself:
- Be patient when waiting in line, for anything. Even when folks ahead of me are moving slowly, I can use this simple gesture- kindness and peace in the face of waiting- as a way to recognize that everyone around me has needs.
- Eat what I am served, even if I don’t like it. I’m the lady who has given a drink back to the barista at Starbucks when I don’t think it has the right amount of chocolate in it, or let’s my waiter know when I think my salad is shy of the avocado slices I know it deserves. I always thought it was my “right” to demand the food I want because, well, I’m paying for it, and technically I do, but I recognize that what I’m really doing when I reject food either at a restaurant or someone’s home (unless I’m allergic to it), is creating more work for others, and making it known that I am a priority. Can I just let this go, and eat what I’m served? Especially when millions in the world are starving? Yes.
- Let cars merge in front of me. I should strive never to be that driver who speeds up or acts like I don’t notice someone’s turning signal.
- Bring food, even when I’m not asked. This could be a meal for a family who’s just moved or had a baby, or bag of bagels and cream cheese to work or a meeting. Who isn’t blessed by unexpected nourishment?
- Serve at home. This means ditching the “you have legs” reaction, and selflessly serving those in your home at every opportunity. Filling a drink, packing a lunch, doing a chore that isn’t normally yours and expecting nothing in return. What better way to inspire service and sacrifice in my husband and kids than to demonstrate it myself?
- Be a friend. This can mean so many things. Listening ears, a thoughtful note, a generous carpool or babysitter. I can go the extra mile to be a better friend.
- Be a neighbor. Could I mow my neighbor’s lawn in addition to my own? Can I bring in newspapers that collect in the driveway? How about bringing produce or flowers from my garden to someone else, even when I know I could use them all myself.
- Volunteer. No doubt there are immediate needs around us all for volunteer help- the nursery at church, the PTA at school, selling concessions at kid’s sports games or leading a youth group. I so often convince myself that I don’t have time for these things, but the fact of the matter is, I make excuses because I don’t want to do them. I can work to put my schedule aside and give more generously of my time.
- Donate. Clothes, food, appliances, a vehicle. Whenever I can possibly spare items that others are in need of, I can go out of my way to donate them.
And these are just a few ideas! There are so many zillions of ways we can serve one another, and they’re not tough to find when we just start looking for them. From the smallest of gestures- a friendly wave- to the largest of sacrifices, I can find ways to serve others every single day. Do you have more ideas? I’d love to hear them!