When I was in high school I had a Sunday School teacher who was an executive for a large and prestigious hotel chain. He was a good man, smart, well dressed and a good Christian. I looked up to him. I don’t recall the details of the conversation I had with him, but I must have thanked him for something he had done for me. I have never forgotten his response. “Thank you Rick, for the opportunity to serve.” That was 50 years ago and to this day I continue to be influenced by his perspective on serving. I’m sure he didn’t realize it, but his simple, quick response had a life-long impact on a young man.
For the last several weeks I’ve been sharing some thoughts with you about service. You can read the first note here, which will contain links to the others. Today I want to share some ideas and examples about how can we serve each other and the world.
I am absolutely convinced that every one of us has been, as part of a vast and very carefully executed plan, granted one or more gifts that are specifically crafted for who we are and to help meet the the needs of some of the people within our influence. Every one of us. I am. You are. There are no exceptions.
Our Creator expects us to use our talents, passions, personality traits and resources to help those around us. We are to be who we are, using what we have, to serve others. That is WHAT is expected of us.
But HOW can we do that? As you can imagine, there are more ways to do that than there is time and space to list them. For some it is very natural. They have been given the gift of serving and they are constantly attuned to the needs of others and looking for ways to help.
For me and most others (I suspect), we have been given other gifts and must intentionally put ourselves in a position to be reminded to use them to serve others. So let’s talk about a few ideas and examples.
- Some people ask God every morning to show them who they can help that day.
- Some pursue vocations that are designed to help and serve. Obvious examples are nurses, teachers, pastors and many others.
- Others commit themselves to volunteer positions to help such as assisting with school activities, visiting rest homes and hospitals, teaching Sunday School, sharing encouraging thoughts on FaceBook and blogs, and being a Big Sister or Brother, to name just a few.
- And some need a more structured reminder system so they list people they care about, then ask God daily to show them who from that list needs their attention that day.
- I’ve even read about a few who accept a challenge to help others for twenty-nine days in a row as a means of self-healing. (Check out the book, ‘29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life’.)
I’m sure this list is woefully incomplete. I know you can share many other, much better ideas. Perhaps you’d like to share your ideas in the comments? Please do – I’d love it if we could share as many ideas as we can.
Before we close this out, I have a bit of a confession to make. I personally believe that the grace of God is real and to know Him here and for eternity is clearly the most important thing we can share with others. For that reason (or was it an excuse?) for most of my life I have been reluctant to help in any significant way if I wasn’t also able and willing to share the Gospel at the same time. “If I can’t or won’t do the ultimate good for someone, then I won’t waste my time doing any kind of good.” But I was dead wrong.
Not long ago I read a book, “Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption” by Katie J Davis. I completely enjoyed it and recommend it to you. I highlighted many things she said, but I think this has had the most impact on my life:
The Bible tells us of Jesus magnificently raising Lazarus from the dead, healing numerous deathly ill people, and feeding thousands. What the Bible does not mention, but what must be true is that, years later, Lazarus still died. The people Jesus healed were inevitably sick again at some point in their lives. The people Jesus fed miraculously were hungry again a few days later. More important than the very obvious might and power shown by Jesus’ miracles is His love. He loved these people enough to do everything in His power to “make it better.” He entered into their suffering and loved them right there.
I wonder what we can do today to be who we are, using what we’ve been given, to make things better for those within our influence?
And then we can say, ‘Thank you friend, for the opportunity to serve.’