Freedom

What does serving others mean to you? To some people it means volunteer work and to others, it means helping when someone asks for help. I have worked in service to others my whole life. My first job was a gas station attendant, then I went into the fire service before retiring and contracting for the military. There is a great deal of satisfaction serving those who are serving our nation. These men and women have committed to maintaining our freedoms that we will celebrate this July 4th. The other side of my life is as an elected person serving our community through policy making and oversight. Look at the people who are “public servants” and you will find that a vast majority of them do it with a smile.

Serving others means doing so without expecting anything in exchange; being a cheerful servant. Service to others is hard to do today. We have been bombarded with the notion that when you help someone, they “owe” us something in return. We go to work, perform well and in exchange we expect a paycheck – sounds natural doesn’t it? We all know that people who work for free have a hard time keeping a roof over their heads and food in the kitchen. A mental battle occurs between serving cheerfully and the pressures of this life to get something for our effort. When we give and give yet get nothing in return, it’s hard to keep giving. Remind yourself that you are serving others not for a reward today but for the genuine satisfaction of helping someone in need. When you serve from the heart, you serve with love in mind.

Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers, were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge in sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

We all enjoy freedom and God has given us the ability to make free will choices. Free will means that we are not bound to anyone or anything, but we need to remember the first commandment – “You shall have no other God”. Do not be bound by your love for material things, possessions, positions, money, etc. You are free to choose to give your love to God and to serve Him. Do not indulge in the sinful nature and avoid the traps of living today.

We should serve one another in love. Jesus gave us a great example of serving others in love. He knew what people were thinking, he performed miracles, he was presented gifts and he was free to roam the countryside. He served in love, He taught others as He traveled and in doing so, He showed us how to serve one another in love. Most importantly, he gave himself for us as the ultimate demonstration of His love and obedience to God. We aren’t being asked by God to be crucified, He just asking us to be good servants to each other.

Start with Why

I seem to frequently ask the question “Why did you do that? Or “Why would you do that?” I have no idea how or where these phrases entered my choice of speech. Sometimes, it lessens the “are you crazy?” thought in my mind but I guess that in the end, people who hear my question are probably hearing the crazy one anyway. I started wondering though, why do I do the things that I do? Personally, I’m not into the glory or recognition of things. I won’t lie, I like to know when people appreciate my work for them but I usually don’t hear about it; so I’ve grown accustomed to not hearing it. Public service is usually a thankless job. However, working for the public is not a thankless job, it is just the opposite – its fulfilling. What drives the work that you do? What drives your work ethic either at home or “in the office”?

Simon Sinek wrote a book called, “Start With Why” that I just finished reading. It is a long read but the core message is about why you do the things you or your businesses do. He uses a number of business examples to illustrate the companies that have succeeded and those that haven’t. One example that I’ve often used is an story about a world class drill bit maker that was internationally successful. Over time, business declined, and they were near the end. A consultant came in and reminded them that they were in the business of making holes, not drill bits. Laser technology had almost bankrupted them. Think about what drives you: the money, the fear of getting fired or the satisfaction of the work. I would suggest that what drives you, defines you and people can see that a mile away. Find your inner strength, know why you do what you do and then do it to the best of your ability. Know your why.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

“Do it all for the glory of God” I could almost end this devotion right here. What else is there to say? Every step you take, every decision you make, every move you make should be to the glory of God. Your boss may not see or appreciate what you do at work but work hard anyway because it brings glory to God. Your spouse or kids may not know what you go through, but do your best because it brings glory to God.

What would happen if God were to stop by and evaluate your work, would He be pleased? Did you cut corners or take longer to get it done because “you weren’t feeling like it today”. Your work or vocation is a gift from God. He may be training you for something greater or perhaps is putting you in the just the right place to make a difference in someone else’s life. God’s plan is greater than our understanding and we should be ready to serve Him with gladness. Now when someone asks you, “why did you do that?”, you can confidently answer that you were doing it the glory of God.

Wise and Faithful Servant

One of the many hats that I wear in my life of service, is that of local elected official – yes, a politician. It makes me cringe when I say it or write it; politician is now a horrible way to describe your self. I am a public servant, doing the work of and for the people of our community. We are responsible for making policy, providing direction, setting budgets and guiding the development of the community. We have an awesome staff who understands what our community needs and what vision we have set for it. Our citizen satisfaction is high and most people you run into will say that they love our community. It is safe, clean and stands out among the other cities in our region. I know it sounds like utopia but it is, without exaggeration and all true. We have been able to achieve all of this because of our ability, as a city council, to work together toward one vision and with one purpose – do what is right for the whole city and not selected developments or special interests. The thing about local politicians is that they can’t stop working with each other when they disagree, they can’t pick ideological agendas to push onto the community and they must put the community first. Our positions require us to be wise when we zone properties or approve developments. We must lead in all situations by providing direction the city staff on what we expect for our residents. We don’t have the option to “shut-down” your local government because we can’t get along; we must always shine despite what is happening around us. Dare I say? We must be wise.

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Daniel 12:3

“Wise” is defined as “having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment”. Many of us are wise in a number of things, some in sports while others in gardening and others in general information. The TV character Cliff Clavin from Cheers thought he was wise in general information but we know how that turned out. The bible is instructing us here to be wise about the teachings of God. In the Old Testament, the people were subjected to the Laws and were constantly proving to God that they were incapable of following them. They relied on their own interpretations and followed their own desires. They were not wise. Those that followed the Laws, believed in God and openly shared their faith lead many to righteousness. The bible teaches that they will shine forever. We can use this verse to be reminded that we too, will shine, when we are wise to the teachings of Jesus Christ. God’s Son, whom He sent to save us because we were not wise, has given us the examples we need to be wise. While we are no longer under the Laws, Jesus taught us how to live righteously through parables, He lead by example and demonstrated His power through miracles so that we might be wise. God inspired the writing of the bible for us to build our faith, grow our knowledge and confidence so that we can lead others to righteousness. God wants us to join Him in heaven so we can shine like the stars for ever and ever. Go and be a wise and faithful servant.