Serving

“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”

Martin Luther King (1929-1968)

People say, ‘I want to be used; I want to serve the church’… but then you ask them to stack the chairs or wash up or serve tea and coffee and they say, ‘now I’m just being used!’ – There’s no pleasing some folk!

During World War II, John Fawkes piloted a B-17. On one mission he sustained flak from Nazi anti-aircraft guns. Even though his fuel tanks were hit the plane did not explode, and Fawkes was able to land the plane safely. On the morning following the raid Fawkes asked his crew chief for the German shell, to keep it as a souvenir of his good fortune. The chief explained that not just one, but eleven shells had been found in the fuel tank, none of which exploded. Technicians opened the shells and found them void of explosive charge. They were clean and harmless, and with one exception empty. The exception contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it a message had been scrawled in the Czech language: ‘This is all we can do for now’. – A courageous assembly line worker was disarming bombs and had scribbled that note. He couldn’t end the war, but he could save one plane. He couldn’t do everything but he could do something and he did it.

Max Lucado

From Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado (this version in The UCB Word For Today 19/4/2007)

We were rescued for a purpose: We are saved to serve. Rick Warren puts it this way: ‘God created, saved, called and commanded you to live a life of service. We are only fully alive when we’re helping others. Jesus said, “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live” (Mark 8:35 TLB). If we are not serving we are just existing, because life is meant for ministry. God wants you to learn to love and serve others unselfishly. The old comparison between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea is a good one. Galilee is a lake full of life because it takes in water but also gives it out. In contrast, nothing lives in the Dead Sea because, with no outflow, the lake has stagnated. What many believers need today is to be involved in serving experiences where they can exercise their spiritual muscles… Serving is the opposite of our natural inclination. Most of the time we’re more interested in “serve us” than service. We say, “I’m looking for a church that meets my needs and blesses me,” not “I’m looking for a place to serve and be a blessing.” We expect others to serve us, not vice versa. But as we mature in Christ, the focus of our lives should increasingly shift to living a life of service. The mature follower of Jesus stops asking, “Who’s going to meet my needs?” and starts asking, “Whose needs can I meet?”

Rick Warren (Source: taken from a daily reading plan from YouVersion Bible app.)

The roots of happiness grow in the soil of service.

“The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth.”

Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell (1865-1940), English physician and missionary

The story is told about a grubby little urchin in the slum, being teased by another boy: “Hah! You say God loves you. Well, if that’s the case, why doesn’t he look after you? Why doesn’t God tell someone to bring you shoes and a warm coat and better food?” The little urchin thought for a moment. Then with tears starting in his eyes, he replied, “I guess he does tell somebody, but somebody forgets…”

Source: Simon Guillbaud, For What It’s Worth, 2006, Oxford: Monarch Books, p.159] [we can’t do everything but friends, we must not do nothing.

‘When you were born, you cried and the world around you rejoiced. May you so live your life for God that when you die, the world around you will cry and you will rejoice.’

Ancient Middle Eastern blessing

Life is like a boomerang… You always get back what you send out!

If we see our gifts and talents as a means of self-fulfilment we have missed their main purpose. Personal fulfilment is a by-product of service and worship.

“Make it a rule, and pray to God to help you to keep it, never, if possible, to lie down at night without being able to say, ‘I have made one human being at least a little wiser, a little happier or a little better this day.’”

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), English clergyman and author

Jesus said to his disciples, “… whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20: 26-28 (NKJV)

In serving others: Preach the gospel at all times and use words if it helps.

Imagine a G20 summit of world leaders. The limos arrive. The politicians enter the banqueting hall. But the US President is nowhere to be seen. Then the British Prime Minster goes off to the toilet – and there’s the President… cleaning them! That’s a wholly inadequate picture of what the Son of God did in His earthly life. Jesus did not come to get, but to give; He came to serve and to save.

Explore Bible notes, 3/10/2012

The only way to the throne room is through the servant’s quarters.

If you want to be great, find a way to serve the many.

Sum tertius is a Latin phrase for, “I am third”: Meaning: put God first, your fellow man second and your own interests third.

Steve Sjogren wrote a book called Conspiracy of Kindness. He started a church in Cincinnati, Ohio, that has grown rapidly to an average attendance of 7,500 in just fifteen years. Their motto is, ‘Small things done with great love are changing the world’. They carry out random acts of kindness like paying for a stranger’s coffee, or writing a ‘thank you’ note to a shop assistant. They have discovered the power and impact of ‘showing God’s love in practical ways’. People from outside were attracted because of what they saw happening on the inside. They were attracted by the sheer undiluted power of God released through ‘acts of kindness’.

Source: Bible in One Year – Alpha, Day 157, Kindness, published 06/06/14

Stand out from the crowd: Many years ago in a small hotel in Philadelphia, USA, an elderly couple, on a business trip from England, approached the night clerk seeking a room. “We have tried several other hotels,” said the man, “but it seems there is a convention in town and they are all full. Do you by any chance have a room you could let us have?”

The hotel clerk shook his head sadly and said, “I’m sorry, all our rooms are taken as well.” Then, seeing the couple’s dejected look, the clerk thought hard and came up with a suggestion: “Look, I will be working on the desk all night and so I don’t need my room. Why don’t you take that?” The couple were taken aback by his kindness and generosity, and after a little more persuasion they accepted his offer.

The next morning when they were checking out, the elderly man said to the clerk, “Young man, you would make a great hotel manager. How would you like me to build a fine hotel for you in New York City and then you could come and manage it for me?” The clerk smiled politely and jokingly said, “Sir, I would like nothing better in the whole world.”

They parted friends and the clerk thought nothing more about it until a couple of years later when he received a letter from the man, along with an invitation; an offer of a round-trip visit to New York to come and visit – guess what? – his new hotel. It turned out that the elderly gentleman was William Waldorf Astor, or Viscount Astor (the British peer). His hotel was the (now-famous) Waldorf-Astoria on the corner of Fifth Avenue in New York City. The clerk’s name, the man who went the extra mile and dared to be different, was George C. Boldt. He became the Waldorf-Astoria’s first manager and went on to become one of the greatest hotel managers in the world.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential

“Excellent service isn’t the result of doing one thing 1000 percent better. It’s the result of doing thousands of things 1 percent better.”

Michael LeBoeuf

William Barclay said: “More people have been brought into the church by the kindness of real Christian love than by all the theological arguments in the world. And more people have been driven from the church by the hardness and ugliness of so-called Christians than by all the doubts in the world.”

God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. You were put on Earth to make a contribution. You weren’t created just to consume resources — to eat, breathe, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life. You were created to add to life on Earth, not just take from it. God wants you to give something back. The Bible says, “God … has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 TEV). These “good deeds” are your service to the world. Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God (Colossians 3:23-24; Ephesians 6:7). What God told Jeremiah is also true for you: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work” (Jeremiah 1:5a NCV). When most people think of this “special work,” they think of pastors, priests, and professional clergy, but God says every member of his family is to minister. In the Bible, the words “servant” and “minister” are synonyms, as are “service” and “ministry.” If you are a Christian, you are a minister, and when you’re serving, you’re ministering. Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t just immediately take us to Heaven the moment we accept his grace? Why does he leave us in a fallen world? He leaves us here to fulfil his purposes. Once you are saved, God intends to use you for his goals. God has a ministry for you in his Church and a mission for you in the world.

Rick Warren

Rick Warren (Source: taken from a daily reading plan from YouVersion Bible app.)

If you wish to be great in wealth, power and self-esteem then learn to be great in the service to many.

‘Unawares’

They said, “The Master is coming
To Honour the town today,
And none can tell at what house or home
The Master will choose to stay.”
And I thought while my heart beat wildly,
What if He should come to mine,
How would I strive to entertain
And honour the Guest Divine!

And straight I turned to toiling,
To make my home more neat;
I swept, and polished and garnished,
And decked it with blossoms sweet.
I was troubled for fear the Master
Might come ere my work was done
And I hasted and worked the faster,
And watched the hurrying sun.

But right in the midst of my duties
A woman came to my door;
She had come to tell her sorrows
And my comfort and aid to implore,
And I said, “I cannot listen,
Nor help you any, today;
I have greater things to attend to.”
And the pleader turned away.

But soon there came another –
A cripple, thin, pale and grey –
And said, “Oh, let me stop and rest
A while in your house, I pray!
I have travelled far since morning,
I am hungry and faint and weak;
My heart is full of misery,
And comfort and help I seek.”

And I cried, “I am grieved and sorry
But I cannot help you today.
I look for a great and noble Guest,”
And the cripple went away;
And the day wore onward swiftly –
And my task was nearly done,
And a prayer was ever in my heart
That the Master to me might come.

And I thought I would spring to meet Him,
And serve Him with utmost care,
When a little child stood near me
With a face so sweet and fair –
Sweet, but with the marks of teardrops –
And his clothes were tattered and old;
A finger was bruised and bleeding,
And his little bare feet were cold.

And I said, “I’m sorry for you –
You are sorely in need of care;
But I cannot stop to give it,
You must hasten otherwhere.”
And at the words, a shadow
Swept o’er his blue-veined brow –
“Someone will feed and clothe you, dear,
But I am too busy now.”

At last the day was ended,
And my toil was over and done;
My house was swept and garnished –
And I watched in the dark – alone.
Watched – but no footfall sounded,
No one paused at my gate;
No one entered my cottage door;
I could only pray – and wait.

I waited till night had deepened,
And the Master had not come.
“He has entered some other door,” I said,
“And gladdened some other home!”
My labour had been for nothing,
And I bowed my head and I wept,
My heart was sore with longing –
Yet – in spite of it all – I slept.

Then the Master stood before me,
And his face was grave and fair;
“Three times today I came to your door,
And I craved your pity and care;
Three times you sent me onward,
Unhelped and uncomforted;
And the blessing you might have had was lost,
And you chances to serve has fled.”

“Oh Lord, dear Lord, forgive me!
How could I know it was Thee?”
My very soul was shamed and bowed
In the depths of humility,
And He said, “The sin is pardoned,
But the blessing is lost to thee;
For, comforting not the least of Mine,
You have failed to comfort Me.”

by Emma A. Lent

We can’t do everything but friends, we must not do nothing!

Mother Teresa said, “A day lived without doing something good for others is a day not worth living.”

“A great man is always willing to be little.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

–Zig Ziglar

Provide continuous all-out-knock-your-socks-off service to your customers and build a ‘protection screen’ that no competitor can even hope to penetrate.

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American poet and essayist

‘Two Kinds of People’

There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say,
Not the good and the bad, for ’tis well understood
The good are half bad and the bad are half good.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.
Not the rich and the poor, for to count a man’s wealth
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life’s busy span
Who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.
No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift and the people who lean.

Wherever you go you will find the world’s masses
Fall into just one of these two classes.
and, strangely enough, you will find too, I wean,
There is only one lifter to twenty who lean.

This one question I ask, then: Are you easing the load
Of overtaxed lifters who toil down the road?
Or are you a leaner who lets others bear
Your portion of worry and labour and care?

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“We can believe in what we are doing and feel a permanent sense of fulfilment only if we know we are rendering a service to others.”

Cavett Robert (motivational speaker, writer)

Sign seen in a tailors shop window, under the heading REPAIR SERVICE: “As you rip, so shall we sew.”

We can’t do everything but, friends, we must not to nothing!