Come To Serve, Not Be Served

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

This week I flew to Orlando. No, I didn’t go in search of the fun most people think of when they think of Orlando, Florida: no Disney World, no Universal Studios.

Instead, I went to serve.

One of the truths of serving others is we gain more than if we’d gone in search of being served.

My class was fantastic. They were fun. They listened, engaged with me, and embraced the training I provided.

I haven’t had much opportunity to travel in the past two years. Being the guardian of two young children tends to rein in the ability to leave town for several days week after week.

My grandchildren’s counselor got excited when I told her I had been away for three days. “Did you read? Did you relax? Did you get some peace and quiet?”

Nope. I got less sleep than I would at home. I worked right up until bedtime preparing for the next day. I spent as much time as I could with the other trainers when I wasn’t in the classroom.

But I found joy in this.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus found times of peace and solitude, but he came to serve, not to be served. And in so doing, I believe he found joy. If he’d grumped around tired and worn out, no one would have followed him. Just a few verses later, Paul alludes to this:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16

So serving is where it’s at.  I served and through that service I received:

  • Time with old friends
  • A new friend whom I hope will become a great friend
  • Conversations with people about what matters to them and seeing their eyes light up
  • Laughter, lots of it
  • Heartfelt thanks for helping people do their jobs well
  • The camaraderie of 45 trainees I will probably never see again, but who touched my life in a very positive way
  • A change of pace for a few days
  • Service from those hired to make sure I had everything I needed to do my job well, including:
    • Waiters who brought me non-dairy milk
    • Food servers who replenished the buffet just as I reached the empty dishes
    • Meeting event people who made sure I had everything I needed and did so without complaint
    • Trainers who jumped in with tips and tricks
    • Several assistant “trainers” who made sure my classroom kept moving forward
    • Managers (internal and external) who checked with me on time and needs
  • Safe trips there and back
  • A husband who stepped up to care for the grandchildren by himself while I was gone (I know how hard this is)

Where do you serve?

 

Strength Through Hardships

If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.butterfly

In case you didn’t know it, this is not a Bible verse. Most people disagree on the source of this quote, attributions  differing from a Chinese proverb to Maimonides to Anne Isabella Ritchey. No matter its source, it shares a wisdom that we can find reflected in this passage in Matthew:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.  Matthew 4:18-20

They left their nets and followed Jesus, seeking to fish for the souls of people. In Luke’s telling of this story, we learn that Jesus first asked Simon and Andrew to let him use their boat as a place to stand away from the gathering crowds as he spoke to them. After he finished speaking, this happened:

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.  So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Luke 5:4-7

Even though he just changed their immediate income needs, they chose to follow him. Why? Because he could show them how to save people rather go fishing every day. Which choice was harder to make? If we’re honest, following Jesus had to be a difficult decision. The Bible tells us that they followed Jesus willingly, but I bet they thought about the hardships this might cause their families and themselves. Yet they went. It was the better choice and changed their lives forever.

I wrote a few weeks ago about my daughter and how to recognize a prodigal, concluding that she is not a prodigal, yet, because she still expects something from me and others. She’s unwilling to face her struggles on her own.

When we raise our children, we want to give them everything. As a single parent, I couldn’t, but that doesn’t mean I made wise decisions. There were times I tried to eliminate her struggles because I knew the pains (I imagined) she had suffered due to my poor choices early in life.  Did I do the right thing?

I’ll never know. She did experience hardships, and definitely is doing so now. Were there ones I should have allowed her to face that I stepped in and removed the obstacles too soon?

I’m reminded of the butterfly and its cocoon. If you’re not familiar with it, I’ve included it below:

Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it. The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.

The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.

At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress! The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!

As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.

But neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly…

If we remove the hardships, we remove the opportunities for a person to thrive. By no means did I, or could I, remove all of the obstacles in my daughter’s life. She had plenty, and she is living many more now. I’ll never know if there was one I should have left for her to stumble over. What I do know is, unlike the butterfly, she can still become strong.

We must let our loved ones struggle, or they will never fly.  This is not ever easy to do as the observer.

Something to think about as you go throughout your day.

 

Strength In Our Weaknesses

DSC_1853 - CopyBut Moses replied to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent-either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant-because I am slow and hesitant of speech.”  Exodus 4:10

I hated giving presentations in front of my classmates. In the seventh grade, after one knee-knocking report, a friend told me, “You were as white as a ghost.”

In the ninth grade, a teacher called on me, but first admonished the class, “Now, everyone be quiet because Barbara has a soft voice, and we need to hear her.” I wanted to crawl under my seat.

If you know me now, you’re probably wondering how I could be the child in these two instances. I am, but I’m nothing like that now. In fact, my career involves speaking in front of people ALL. OF. THE. TIME. I’ve spoken to groups ranging in size from 3 people to an entire auditorium filled with standing room only.

I got over my fears.  Not quickly, but I did begin to face and deal with those fears by the time I was twenty.

Sometimes, God calls us to tasks we don’t understand, much less want to do. The Bible is full of people like that. Why does God delight in taking us into the uncomfortable? So, He can demonstrate his power through our weakness. People will not doubt the message came from Him when he uses someone in a powerful way that goes against their nature.

Here are some examples:

  • Moses
  • Simon Peter
  • Sarah
  • Esther
  • Naomi
  • Jonah

Who else can you name who found their calling through God’s power rather than their own?