my newest thoughts on servanthood
Because we are called and made for relationships, we are not meant to serve alone. I think for many years, I have labored under the goal of independent accomplishment only to find that it produces frustration and dissension in the body of Christ. I can think of so many examples, but one comes to mind from a few years ago. I used to work at a dear camp outside a small town in Iowa. I loved the camp and the people and one particular night we had arranged a counselor reunion, where all the staff could get together and spend the night – bonfire, guitars, reminiscing, and everything campJ. I wanted everything to be perfect, so I remember shopping for peach packet ingredients (peaches, marshmallows, brown sugar). Well, instead of accepting help in preparing this camp specialty, I decided to make them all myself. I remember distinctly opening the cans as everyone else sat by the fire laughing and telling stories. I know I thought I was serving at the time, but I had refused at least two people in their offers to help. I really do enjoy making things for people, but sometimes my insistence on independence leads to resentment and pride (you know the kind, probably – a watered down martyr who accepts no help and then resents your fun). I’m really ashamed that I act this way, and that I over-analyze everything. I know that my attitude has just as much to do with my reflecting the Lord as my actual service. Man, I wish I could take back some of my arrogance and independence. This weekend Darwin (who led the retreat – SUCH an encouragement!), talked about independence being “just plain not helpful” in the mission field. There is no room for it and no need for it, he said. God has formed teams, communities, and the fellowship of believers for a purpose – to accomplish work for His kingdom and give Him great glory, not as a single unit where they could receive the praise, but as a body functioning in God’s will. Praise the Lord and amen for His grace when I force myself outside His will and I “serve” on my own. I think this summer is a perfect time to examine my heart.
I’m realizing the above more and more at Ruby’s. I am now not afraid to ask for help, but I struggle with over-working so that I can be most useful. I know this sounds like a good plan, but not if I am over-working on my own strength. I can refill the ice buckets, wipe down counters and tables, and help other servers. Sure, I can do all that, but if I am relying myself, I am missing God’s purpose for me there. Somehow, some way my co-workers need to see the light of the Lord reflected in my work, instead of my own stubborn work ethic. It is not me who gives the gift of helping, because that keeps attention focused on what I am doing. Instead, it is the gift of God’s Son that enables me to do anything good with pure intent.
I’m almost spent… one last thought and then some authors I want to read.
There’s a map on my wall next to my bed. It’s been there for about a week now and my fingers have traced the outlines of countries and continents across it’s ironically flat surface. I can’t help but wonder about the days when maps were still forming as men walked from city to city and chiseled out routes on the water. What must it have been like to add new territory and discover new regions? Instead of traveling with the purpose of trade or employment, most of our travels (from America, anyway) are trips of leisure to vacation spots, job-related, or favorite get-aways.
I guess that’s all – just my reflection on how things have changed. I’m struggling with my future right now, so everything comes out layered with questions. At the core I know what I am looking for is purpose. Not something spelled out in a book or accomplished with a degree. John Piper wrote a book called “Don’t Waste Your Life.” He used a quote from a picture in his office that said, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” I suppose – no I know – that therein lies the answer. I believe it beneath all the layers, I do. I’m just wondering how He will use me.
last sidenote – I’ve been thinking randomly of some authors I’d like to read this summer:
Lisa Espinelli Chin
Let the Nations be Glad, John Piper
Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
and..possibly something on the Azusa Street Revival