We’ve been doing a little remodeling the past few weeks and I found myself going through some old paperwork. In it, I found my baptismal and confirmation certificates along with a card from my confirmation. I never knew who my “God Parents” were but I finally do now. Unfortunately, they have both passed away. As I read the note that came with my confirmation papers, I was drawn to the idea of servitude – serving others and being served. I have no idea why I kept the note but it’s meaning is far more impactful today than it was when I received it. Even after all of the classes that I attended for confirmation, there are no better lessons than what life teaches you and how God reveals Himself throughout your life. Here is what the note said:
The best and most meaningful things in life are those which cannot be seen, or touched, but which are felt. On this special day, the meaning of your faith is very real to you. Life has its deepest meaning in Christ. May the sacredness of this time be a rich reminder of your Christian faith, not only in this day but throughout all of your life. May God fill you with His love as you follow the living Christ. May the Holy Spirit give you guidance that your life may be full, and that you may receive the abundance of God’s grace forever. May joy be in your heart today in the knowledge that Christ is your Savior, your friend and your guide.
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26
When I work with the military, I am witness to multiple examples of servant leadership and it always reminds me of Jesus Christ. Jesus was THE servant leader. He knew what was in store for himself but He served us anyway. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, performed miracle after miracle and always did it with our best interests in mind. He was often called Teacher and He served in that role as well. Jesus was determined to reach as many lost souls as He could before His Father would call Him home. Servant leadership means that we give up control of the effort so that others can learn and grow.
In our lives, we can serve those that we are trying to lead so that they may become stronger; we are the ones making sacrifices for the betterment of others. Jesus’ sacrifice was beyond compare but we are all better off because of it. We are free from sin because the servant leader put us before Himself. We all make sacrifices in our lives but some do it in hopes of getting something in return. Jesus made a sacrifice not to get something in return but to share something with all of us – eternal life. The bonus for Him is that He gets to share that with us. Go out and serve others not because you need something but because you have something wonderful to share, a message of hope and salvation.
The dictionary tells us that the word “service” means lots of different things: a ceremony like a church service, a set of things like a tea service, performing a job that doesn’t make anything in the end like the plumber who fixes a leaky faucet, work that is performed by someone that serves other people like a waiter and doing something that contributes to the welfare or life of others like those in the military service. Sometimes we hear the word “service” used by people: “that was great service we got at dinner last night”, “I need to get my car serviced at the dealer”, and “my phone service is so spotty, I can’t get text messages here”. None of these are what God wants us to focus on in our lives.
Sometimes its just picking up a paper that someone dropped and sometimes its being there to listen to someone in need. Either way, you are showing God’s grace within you. You will be fulfilling part of what Jesus gave to us through his teachings, love your neighbor as yourself. Embracing a lifetime of service starts now and never ends. People are lost all around us and God is depending on us to show them the way back to Him. Being a faithful servant, caring for and loving each other are only the beginning. Learn about the number of ways that you can help others and let them to know about the awesome things that God has done for you.
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” 1 Corinthians 12:5
Jesus told us Himself what service means in Matthew 28:18-20 when he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Can you remember what some of things that Jesus commanded us to do? Teaching the message of salvation, loving and caring for one another, and taking care of those in need are just a few. These are all an act of service. So look around in your daily life and I’ll bet that you can find service opportunities everyone.
Why do we perform service for others? Some will argue that we do it so that we can go to heaven with eternal life. We perform service for others because we want to show them the love that we have been given by Jesus. Remember, we don’t have to do anything for eternal life; Jesus already did it for it for us by taking our sins with him onto the cross. There are different kinds of service but we are lucky to have the same Lord, a loving and caring God who gave His only son so that we can have eternal life through Him.
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 find myself thinking or writing a lot about restaurant servers when I think of serving others. This should shed a little light into my life with exactly how much time I send in restaurants but I digress. Watch a server run from table to table taking orders, dropping off food or drinks, picking up dirty dishes and making sure that you have every thing you need or that everything is just the way you want it. They do it all with a smile. Can you say that you serve others with such energy and 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 not getting in return 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 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 while He traveled and in doing so, He showed us how to serve one another in love. More 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.
Today is Veteran’s Day. We have an “Active Adult” community in our city that hosts a parade and an awesome service for our Veterans. People from throughout the community come to watch us all wave, but it’s too bad that many don’t stay for service. Every branch of service is honored and an active or retired military member speaks about the meaning of camaraderie or service to country. It is a very well done ceremony in a time when we, as a society, find it easy to forget the sacrifices that have been made by those living and those past. It’s unfortunate, but the needs of our veterans still outweigh our ability to serve them in the same fashion in which they served us. Veteran unemployment is still high, housing issues are abound, their medical and psychological needs are not being met and many continue to struggle. Its great that we have a day set aside for America’s real heroes but everyday should be Veteran’s Day until we have taken care of them all. The wars over the past decade have been like none we have ever known. Service men and women deploying three and four times in a decade long fight will take a toll on an entire generation and the effects will not be realized for years to come. Regardless of how you feel about “entitlement programs”, I hope that we as a nation do not ever consider Veteran’s Programs an entitlement. These service members earned every benefit they have; I implore you to never forget that. After WWII and the Korean conflict (war) our nation created programs to assist with housing, job placement, educational services and preferred hiring allowances for our returning veterans. Today, these are considered “entitlements” and have become bargaining chips for the “entitled” who are making the rules in DC. Let’s keep the honor to Veteran’s Day – for the common good and never forget what they did.
“ 5There are different kinds of service, but the same LORD. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
1 Corinthians 12: 5-7
Like the military, there are different kinds of service. Some people work in homeless shelters, some in food pantries and others at their church. There are all kinds of service “but the same Lord.” If you read on in verses 8-11, you we see that our gifts are listed right there in the bible! God did not tell us that we had to do all of them but that we are gifted. We all work in different vocations “but the same God works all of them in all men.” God doesn’t pick and choose who gets to do important work and who doesn’t, He works in ALL of us because it is all important to Him. The great joy in all of our work – service or vocation, is through the Holy Spirit and guides us toward the common good. We’re working for God in all we do. Our Veteran’s worked for the common good, ridding the world of evil. No matter what you do, you are working for common good – God’s will. Like our Veteran’s, don’t forget that.