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?

 

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Praying On the First Day of School

First Grade Messenger Photo 1967 - Copy

My picture in the local paper before I started 1st Grade.

It’s hard to believe the first day of school is here.  It feels like yesterday I wrote about the last day of school.

Today as I dropped my grandchildren off for their first days in fourth grade and in kindergarten, I prayed for their safety as well as the safety of their schools and buses. I, also, prayed for each of their teachers by name as well as the bus drivers by name.

Do you pray for your children, their schools, and teachers? Our children are growing up in a world of increasing violence.  When I attended school, I never feared a gunman might enter the school and kill children, yet that is our normal.  So I pray…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:6-7

I started praying for my granddaughter, Victoria, when she was in kindergarten. Her brother, Amari, started kindergarten today and has the same wonderful teachers his sister had.  I have hazy memories of kindergarten, but it was a fun and happy time.  I pray his kindergarten year will be fun, too.

Victoria is now in fourth grade.  I have memories of all my school years, but I have many more from the fourth grade and beyond than the earlier years.  I had Mrs. Christenberry, a friend of our family and the same teacher my older sister and brother had.  I really began to love school that year.  I hope Victoria does the same.

Last June, I shared my prayer frame with my readers, but, so you don’t have to jump back to that post, I’m sharing it again.  I pray this for all of my grandchildren and family members (immediate and distant) who work on school properties. It’s important to me to do this every day.  After I pray, I feel I can move on with my day.

If you don’t have a loved one attending or working in a school, then pray for the nearest schools or your neighbor’s family members.

Here is my prayer:

Our heavenly father, today I lift up [the name of the school] before you and ask your protection over this school. Do not let anyone or anything that would cause harm or evil to cross over the borders, boundaries, or threshold of this school.  Please be with the faculty, staff, administration, volunteers, and students and bless them with patience and caring for their students. Lord especially, I lift up [teachers’ names and others who have contact with my children] and ask a special blessing upon them. Amen.

When I started praying this prayer, I chose to protect the borders, boundaries, and thresholds of the schools.  You might wonder why I used those terms instead of praying for hedges of protection.  The borders cover the boundary lines around the school property, the threshold protects the interior of the school, and the boundaries protect it from above and below.  Hedges, to me, never satisfied all of the potential directions harm can strike at the school.

The important point is not how you pray, it’s that you PRAY.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thess. 5:16-18

 

Prayer on the Last Day of School

Today is the last day of school for my grandchildren, Victoria and Amari. Since they came to live with us last September, it’s been an emotional roller coaster. We’ve dealt with courts, attorneys, caseworkers, a guardian ad litem, day cares, teachers, principals, after school programs, and many others during this journey.

Today as they left, I sat down and prayed for their safety as well as the safety of their schools and buses. I, also, prayed for each of their teachers by name as well as the bus drivers by name.  I have done this for several years, even when they didn’t live with us. Today, it brought tears to my eyes. A school year is over, and all of these people have helped me provide a caring environment as they adjusted to the upheaval of the world as they know it. I will always be indebted to them.

Do you pray for your children, their schools, and teachers?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

I started praying for Victoria when she was in kindergarten. She lived with us for a few months that year. I hate to admit that I didn’t start the year doing this. It took the tragedy at Sandy Hook to make me wake up and realize that schools are not the safe haven they once were. My children had not been in the public schools by the time of Columbine, so the events jarred me but didn’t wake me to action. Now I know differently.

Today, Victoria finishes third grade.  On Awards Day she received awards for all A’s, the highest average in Science, Excellence in Art, 2nd Place in the PTA Photography Reflections Contest, and a Reading Award.

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Amari finishes 4K today. He’s come a long way with several challenges on his plate involving delayed development, but yesterday at his end of year celebration, he received the Math Counting Scholar award.

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

I have hazy memories of kindergarten, but it was a fun and happy time. I will continue to pray next year as Amari and Victoria and my other grandchildren grow and progress.

Do you pray for your children and grandchildren? If you don’t, let me share with you the framework of my prayer:

Our heavenly father, today I lift up [the name of the school] before you and ask your protection over this school. Do not let anyone or anything that would cause harm or evil cross over the borders, the boundaries, or the threshold of this school.  Please be with the faculty, staff, administration, volunteers, and students and bless them with patience and caring for their students. Lord especially, I lift up [teachers’ names and others who have contact with my children] and ask a special blessing upon them. Amen.

Sometimes, I say more. Sometimes, I don’t. But every day they head off to school, I pray for them and those I entrust with their care.