For those who love to serve, a hidden pearl of life has been discovered. For others, the very concept seems not only difficult but sometimes even repulsive.
In fact, many of the messages that we are bombarded with on what seems like an hourly basis is that you are not only worthy to be served, you deserve it and should expect it everywhere you go.
How can there be such a discrepancy among us, even in the church?
Growing up, I remember countless pastors and church consultants quoting the 80-20 rule. It basically states that 20% of the attenders of a particular church do 80% of the “work” – their word, not mine. When I talk to other pastors today, they will often say its more like the 90-10 rule. (I’m so very thankful that this hasn’t been the case for most of our years as a church at Journey.)
How is this possible in our churches that are heralding the good news of a risen Christ who has invited us to become more like Him? It’s probably because we have fundamentally misunderstood the very concept of service as Jesus modeled it.
He talked about it all the time and showed us what it looked like in every day life…
“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:43–45
“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” -Matthew 23:11–12 (ESV)
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” -John 13:12–15
Jesus constantly turned the motives and priorities of our hearts upside down. Don’t seek to be first. Serve others. Wash one another’s feet. Be humble. The first will be last and the last will be first. Give your inner garment to the one that asks for your coat. If someone tells you to walk with them for a mile, you go 2 miles.
The heart of the one that follows Jesus is forever changed and I think this is the great disconnect for so many that attend church. They are looking for something but they really don’t want to look like Jesus when you get right down to it. Many really just want Jesus to help them in their own hopes and desires, instead.
The heart of service, though, now that is something that is truly spectacular.
And it’s not REALLY about work. It’s about seeing the needs of others and placing a value on them above ourselves or our own needs.
Your friends who practice service are probably some of your best friends or at least they are people that you share some of your fondest memories with.
They tend to show up early to help and stay late. They forgive quickly and want to be there for you before you ask.
Service is absolutely about showing up at church and pitching in even if you are not on the volunteer schedule but it’s so much more than that, even.
Service is practiced while you are driving to work and let someone in a crowded lane. It’s being excited to bring coffee to your co-workers if it’s your turn instead of seeing it as a burden.
Service is seeing that one kid that never has anyone to sit with at lunch and you decide to have lunch with him or her.
Service is not waiting to be asked when you see a need nor expecting a trophy for pitching in.
It’s born out of a fundamentally different way of viewing the world, God and each other.
It can be a kind word when you are wronged or a punishment withheld.
It’s the heart of Jesus and much of our “work” falls into the category of serving others while the rest of the world is tirelessly trying to get others to serve them.
It’s about regularly attending your church not just to get something out of it but to give to those that have also chosen to do this life with others.
Service minded people cringe at slogans like “It’s all about you” or “You deserve this” because ultimately they have learned the great lesson that Jesus wanted them to…that life is about loving others, being in community and building each other up instead of getting everything we can get out of our few fleeting moments on earth. Those people, Jesus says, will inherit eternal life and will spend it with him.
If you choose this life, I will tell you that you will get taken advantage of, but that’s not the point, either. That’s the old way of thinking. A life filled with serving and loving others has rewards that you can’t possibly comprehend unless you have found the pearl of great price, too.
Why do you think we dislike serving so much?
I think we dislike serving for all the reasons you said. I would also add that I think we can buy into the “THEY don’t deserve it” mentality too. The Bible says to pray for our enemies and bless those who persecute us. The Bible tears down every excuse we can give you get out of serving. It’s like God knew our selfish hearts!