Growing a Servant’s Heart

Since I decided to become a Christian, I’ve heard a lot about the “Heart of a Servant.”  We are supposed to have one. I did a quick search on biblegateway.com, and kicked up 934 results.  Now a lot of those results are talking about actual servants, but if you just look at the New Testament, I found 156 specific verses.  Many of the New Testament writers start their letters with “[Name], a servant of Jesus (Christ)…..” or some similar introduction.  There are songs about being a servant. Servitude is an integral part of being a Christian, and it has become one of the focuses of my life.  One of the most important parts of my personal code of honor is that if I can help someone, then I will.  It’s a hard call to live up to.  Have there been times when I could have helped someone, but didn’t, especially since I became a Christian? Yes.  Have there been times when I have willingly decided not to help someone I know needed it? Certainly.  But that is where my imperfection shines forth, and it is one of the things I know I have to work on.

Mere servitude is not enough though.  We have to be willing servants, who are happy to help others and willing to do what is needed.  I recently got a job working as a cashier.  I enjoy my work because I get to serve others.  It’s not always easy.  There are times when customers are disgruntled, or someone brings a huge order to the express lane, or people ignore the instruction to leave certain items in their cart.  But many people are pleasant, and almost every single one is thankful for the service I provide.  I do everything I can to be quick and efficient at my work so that the customers are happy and so my managers are happy.  I like helping people, and in my mind, I see it as service to others, and that is why I enjoy it so much.  Even though by the end of the shift my feet hurt, and sometimes my back hurts, and I’m tired and just want to go to bed, I still make it a priority to smile and greet customers, and be pleasant with them.  It isn’t their fault that I’m tired or sore.  I remember that I was put on this planet to help others and serve them, and if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it willingly.

Take last night, for example.  I was supposed to check out at 9:00 pm.  My grandmother was waiting in the parking lot, but right then, it seemed like everyone and their mother decided to check out.  I didn’t realize the store had that many people in it!  I looked at the time, looked around for my supervisor, shrugged, and started taking customers.  When I saw my supervisor, she asked if I would take more customers.  I gladly accepted.  Finally, (at her request) I turned my light back on, because the rush was not easing up, and there were lines at the other two open registers.  The store manager even came down to help me bag, since I didn’t have a bagger.  I ended up staying an extra 45 minutes so that we could take care of the customers quickly and efficiently.  Once the rush died off, I asked if it would be okay if I left, and clocked out.  It wasn’t something I “had” to do, but I knew it would make things easier for my coworkers, my bosses, and my customers.  I was happy to do it because I knew I was helping others.  I didn’t take it out on my customers, and I didn’t do it for the extra pay. (I make minimum wage, so it’s an extra $5.43, whoop-de-doo.)  In fact, I was more concerned about my supervisor getting in trouble for keeping me over my scheduled time, but I don’t think she will, because the manager thanked me for staying.

I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, or raise myself up.  This is just the best example I can give, and the reason I decided to write about this today. (I’ve been trying to think of something meaningful to write about, which is why I’m so overdue for a post.)  My point in telling you this is that we all should strive to serve willingly.  “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:17, ESV)  Or, if music is more your thing, here’s the chorus of Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Do Everything”

Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long
As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause he made you,
To do
Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

Faith in God requires action along with that faith. In the 2nd chapter of James’ letter to his Christian bretheren (and sisteren), that “Faith without works is dead.” (Verses 17, 24, 26, ESV)  Everyone is called to service, but that doesn’t mean everyone is called to the same service.  For example, I am good at teaching.  So I intend to work as a teacher, both in schools and at home, and in my church.  But I know I am better at teaching older children and adults, more than little children.  I have not developed the patience for it, and I don’t have the attitude for it.  But I know others who are marvelous with younger children.  I know some who have a knack for yardwork.  They serve congregations by working on the grounds of the church, and by helping older members with their yardwork.  Some people are really good at working with technology.  They serve by helping others with technology problems and putting together powerpoints for services.  Some of the brothers and sisters I know are excellent conversationalists, and they have taken the time to learn how to encourage others, and that is so important. Servants take their talents and put them to use for others.  They help others profit by their abilities, and in doing so, they serve God.  We all have strengths, and we need to learn to utilize them so that we can serve others.

This isn’t something that happens overnight.  I used to be incredibly selfish.  It has taken time for me to learn how to take joy in serving others, and I grow more from it day by day.  There are more ways I can serve, and I need to start utilizing those opportunities.  And you may find that is the case too.  Take an inventory of your talents.  How can you use those talents to serve someone else today?  Ask your church elders how you can serve your church, if you aren’t doing something already, or if you know you can do more.  Find a soup kitchen or food pantry and help serve food, or help a neighbor with some yard work.  Offer to help an elderly person with their shopping.  Go on a mission trip.  Find ways to serve others.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you    welcomed me,
I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

-Jesus, Mathew 25:35-40

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The lesson I learned from a pair of shoes….

I have a beautiful pair of wedge heels.  I got them at Lane Bryant, and they have the braided rope on heel, and a pretty texturized upper fabric that covers the toe and the heel and made up the ankle strap.  I adored these heels because they were the first pair I had picked out for myself and could wear and be fairly comfortable.  I’ve had them for about a year now, but back in March I was getting ready to go see an on-campus movie with friends, and when I lifted my left foot to fasten the strap, I didn’t realize I was stepping on the strap with my right heel.  As I lifted my foot, I realized my mistake, but it was too late, and I had ripped the strap clean off the shoe. I picked up both pieces, saw there would be no quick fix before I had to leave, and took the right shoe off.  I was dismayed, but I knew of a shoe repair shop back home and decided to take them in and see what could be done.  I donned a different pair of heels I had not yet worn and went to see The Hobbit.

Fast forward to two weeks ago.  I was home from my first year of college, and I was running errands.  As I passed the shoe repair shop on the way to the mall, I saw it was still open, but I figured it was going to cost more to fix the shoe than it was worth, but then I had an epiphany.  I could remove the ankle straps on both shoes, and then replace them with ribbon and tie them like pointe shoes!  The would be just as or more pretty, and I would just have to buy some grosgrain ribbon!

With my new plan concocted, I continued on to the mall.  I figured WalMart would be a good place to stop because they sold fabric and ribbon and other crafty things, and I needed a journal anyway.

I wish I could say that I have pictures posted of the new shoes in all of their diy makeover glory, but I don’t.  I’ll add pictures when they are done for you all to look at.

So now that you know the back story and the plan, allow me to explain the lesson.  That pair of shoes was lovely.  They were well made, attractive, and supportive.  They were helpful when I needed to look nice, even if it took me a while to finagle the strap closed.  But then they broke, they became damaged and unwearable because of a silly thing, but that strap was the shoe’s weak spot.  It would break there before anywhere else.  I am that shoe.  We are all that shoe.  We are all beautiful and do important things and help others accomplish things and carry great loads.  But just like shoes we fall short of expectations.  We break and are damaged, and we need repair.  And Jesus does that for us.  He takes a good look at us, determines what we need, and not only fixes us, he changes us and makes us different and better than we were.  He does to us what we cannot do.  He takes away our stains (our sins) and heals us (fixes our broken straps), and it makes us better than we were.

“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” -Mark 12:17, ESV

And because some of you might be saying “Well what if I’m the shoe that isn’t broken?  I don’t need this Jesus to fix me!  I’m perfectly fine!” here is Romans 3: 22b-26:

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.   It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

See that? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  That means me, that means you, your neighbor, your cousin, and that random man you passed earlier today on the street.  We are all sinners, we all have fallen short of God’s glory and expectation of us, BUT, if we have freely accepted Christ into our life by baptism for the remission of sins, then we have been covered by Christ’s blood, and not only are our former sins forgiven, but the ones we are making currently.

So, in essence, we are all shoes with a broken strap.

And that’s the lesson I learned from a pair of shoes.

In Christ,

Jax