“I don’t want to go…”
I’ve heard these words a thousand times. Recently from my kids, expressing their displeasure at this thing called school. I’ve heard it from college students, days away from going on a short-term mission trip. I’ve said it too…a lot. I can especially remember having dinner with my family on some Tuesday nights, and I was scheduled to preach at our college ministry worship service in the next hour or so. Still, despite how I felt, I went…and I’d say 95 times out of a 100, I was glad I did.
I think God does something to us, and in us, when we serve something greater than ourselves. Overcoming our feelings, overcoming our busyness, and doing something for others has almost always done something for me. Sure, there might be times when my heart is in a place when I do something purely out of obligation or duty, and I walk away thinking I wasted my time. But that was, and is, rare. Most of the time I walk away and say, “Wow, I almost missed that.”
Now, I know that the motive should be that I want to bless others simply to bless them…not for what it does for me. But I think that Jesus knew that by encouraging us to serve, and building something into serving others that blesses us, that he would get us to get up and do it. I think of the story of Jesus talking with his disciples. The mother of James and John takes Jesus aside and asks that Jesus give them places of honor (sitting on his right and left), when he comes into his kingdom. She didn’t quite know what that kingdom would look like. Anyway, the other ten disciples get angry at James and John for their mom asking for those places of honor, maybe because they wanted those places themselves, and they didn’t think to ask first! Jesus puts all of the grumbling to rest when he says, “You know the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Did you notice what Jesus did there…he started with “Whoever would be great,” to which most of us say, “That’s me! Sign me up!” Then he throws us off by saying, “be a servant.” Makes us take a step back. But I wonder if there is a greatness that we know and feel when we live a life of serving well. (Because Jesus said so, I’m thinking the answer is “Yes.”)
At our church we’re going through this season of looking at what it means to be a steward. That is, what does it mean to be a caretaker of the important things that God has given, and that includes our talents and time. If you’re a part of our church, we put together a flyer called “100 Ways You Can Make a Difference as a Family,” which can be found here: (in all honesty, you don’t have to do these things with a family…but it is a neat picture to think about taking kids along for the ride of serving with you). And even if you’re not a part of things here in Sacramento, you can probably adapt them to your community.
In short, serving others, with our time and talents, is a vital part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. And we just might discover something great when we do.