Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Serving Like Jesus

Last week, the staff wives of our church met together and each shared with the group what God is teaching us right now. What I shared that night had to do with some things God has been teaching me about servanthood. These truths He's been showing me have really convicted me. You see, I am not by nature a servant. I mean, I get that we are all selfish creatures apart from the Spirit of God in us, but I think some people's personalities and gifts, both natural and of the Spirit, lend themselves towards a more helpful, gracious, nurturing quality. That is not me at all. At all. Service is neither a natural nor a spiritual gift of mine! For most of my life, I've pretty much preferred to be served.

I have lots to work through right now. My thoughts about serving are being transformed, but I want it to go way beyond that. I want these truths fleshed out in my everyday actions. And I'm learning what a process that is. And also learning how gracious God is to me during my weak attempts at demonstrating His heart of service to those around me. I know this for sure: He is patient!

Several weeks ago, I spent some time thinking about what a widowed friend of mine is going through. I thought about what kind of loneliness surely hits someone in a position like that. I'm just speculating here, but I can't help but think that in some ways maybe her loneliness is intensified by the fact that she's spent her widowed life serving others so much and so well. I know she's made sure to stay in community with the Body of Christ and to serve WITH others, and I'm sure that's a big part of how God has provided for her needs and why she is ok right now even during a difficult time. It reminds me of the importance of bringing others alongside us into ministry and joining others in what they're doing to serve because we all need that partnership. It is essential. All over the place, Scripture testifies to the importance of teamwork when it comes to the gospel and discipleship. Isolation in ministry is the quickest path to burnout, in my opinion and experience. Anyway, I was thinking about how apart from those ministry-partner friendships, the real kind of service that God calls us to probably in its nature sets us up for real loneliness. That's because the real kind of service God calls us to isn't the kind where we get something in return. It isn't about serving those who can serve us back. Jesus ministered to those truly in need of healing. He ministered to the sickest of sick, the poorest of poor, the neediest of all. And none of them could do for Him what He had done for them. My friend has poured out her life, investing so many resources and so much time, to many people who are in a season of life where they are probably not able to reciprocate in meeting her needs. It may have compounded her loneliness in a way, but it has surely earned her great reward with the Lord for being a true servant. As I reflected on most of the serving I've done over past years, I confess that the majority of it has been done for those who reciprocate that same kind of service to me when I find myself in some kind of need. Please don't misunderstand me to be saying that loving on believers isn't good. Oh my goodness, that is not what I mean. Investing in our friendships, regularly having couples from our community group over for dinner, hosting and attending baby and wedding showers and the like for friends are all ways that I feel called to love on the people of my church. We should take care of each other and have a mutual interest as fellow Christians in loving each other. We're supposed to love on each other in a way that shows Christian brotherly-love to be the best kind around. Jesus tells us so. Our love for one another in the church should point nonbelievers towards Christ.

It just shouldn't stop there.

If that's all the kind of serving I'm doing, I'm not living like Jesus. Who am I serving that I could never imagine paying me back? Who am I investing in that has needs that huge? As I began to think this through a few weeks ago, I realized that most of the people I've been serving are servants themselves and I could think of very few people I serve who aren't. Something's not right about that.

But it's just like Jesus to start showing me what my heart is lacking right before He brings me opportunities to practice that change. I've been amazed at the needs around me that He's allowed me to see this week. They are huge. Opportunities for serving like Jesus abound, I just need to open my eyes to it more often and abide in Him in such a way that my actions reflect His heart.


Marci said...

Great post Hannah! I began feeling these same convictions a couple years ago. I have never been a natural at serving either, but God is so faithful when He puts something on your heart to open the doors to be able to do what He is moving us to do.

I was being convicted by these verses in Luke 14:

12Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

So, I have been given many opportunities in the past few years to do this and it has been such a blessing.

What has been hard is finding the time to do both. It seems that in our change of lifestyle, I am seeking to serve those in need more than my closest friends. I try to rationalize that at times because it seems our closest friends have others who are serving them and each other and that they don't need me as badly as others who have no friends to serve them at all. Not a good rationalization, but that has been where I am at.

I know that I cannot possibly serve EVERYONE, so choices have to be made at times.

I like this quote from Craig Groeschel from LifeChurchTV

"To reach people that no one is reaching, we have to do things that no one is doing. But to do things that no one is doing, we have to stop doing what everyone else is doing."

This has had a lot of meaning to me over the past year or so. I cannot continue to keep up with what I used to do with my friends and fellow believers- - -there is simply NOT enough time, but I am comforted in knowing that it is ok because God has a different calling on our lives.

I love how you are truly seeking and open to whatever it is God places on your heart, even when it is out of your comfort zone! I don't think God truly wants us comfortable.

What is your email address if I wanted to send you something personally??