Archive for the ‘servanthood’ Category

From Weakness   Leave a comment

Have you ever noticed that the Christian church culture promotes a certain definition of service?

It usually involves helping a needy person, which is great.  I like many of the ideas I’ve seen, the days where churches open their buildings for a medical clinic, clothes, glasses, winter coats, vaccinations.  The food pantry is a solid way to serve.  Habitat for Humanity and Heifer Project are fantastic ministries.

You can help in the nursery or kids’ programs at your church, and I’m pretty sure, when it comes to kids’ programming, you are desperately needed.  You can package and load shoe boxes for Samaritan’s Purse before Christmas.  You can volunteer with the Salvation Army, or with Dare to Care.  Your local state or city park could use people on trash patrol or trail maintenance.

Over the years, I’ve heard of many other ways to serve that I’m not even remembering at this point.  You’ve all heard the calls from various ministries that need volunteers.

Volunteering, service, looking outward–that’s how it should be.

The problem is the implication that the volunteer doesn’t have any needs.  He doesn’t have problems, disease, or suffering.  After all, he’s the one helping “the least of these.”

The logical conclusion from the context of these assumptions is that people who are well can do works of service.  Furthermore, they are strong.  The next step is then believing that if you don’t have strength, there is no place for you to serve.  If you can’t fit the model put forth, you can’t serve.  You aren’t qualified.  What you have to offer isn’t enough.


Should we assume that health, strength and power are a prerequisite?

Must one always be young, energetic, and passionate about a cause to make a difference?

Does service always have to be what is understood to be volunteering?

What if each person, led by God, chose his path to helping others ?

Do the poor in spirit have something to give?

Can one lead from a place of weakness?

Posted December 17, 2019 by swanatbagend in servanthood

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No Greater Love   Leave a comment

I have a tendency to take things literally and so I think this has colored my understanding of the text in John 16 where Jesus says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  If you read on from that point, where Jesus says he’s calling his disciples friends, it’s easy to infer that he’s referring to what he’s about to do.  And Jesus does literally give his life for his friends, which includes his 12 disciples, but us as well.  So until last week, I didn’t get any further with that verse than thinking 1) Jesus is stating what he’s about to do for us and 2) he’s saying that a willingness to even die for someone else if needed is the test that you really love.

There is so much more to it than that.

So forgive me for stating the obvious (if this was already obvious to you), but this time when I read those verses I saw something else.

It isn’t laid down all at once. It’s laid down each moment of each day.
If you lay down your life, that does not necessarily mean that you die doing it.
Maybe you don’t die.
Maybe you are already laying down your life.
Maybe you are laying down what you want, your ideas and plans, even the idea that it is your life to begin with.
Perhaps you are in a difficult work situation or relationship situation, that requires dedication. It goes on and is not temporary. It’s not what you signed up for, but it the reality you currently face. In moving forward through the challenges of it, you are laying down your life.

As you get older, perhaps you feel it more, this laying down. As you go forward, it’s unrolling like a layer of asphalt or perhaps a lovely red carpet. There will be an end to it, not seen by you, but you know it’s closer. Maybe that’s why you feel the laying down.
Also you can’t take it up again; you can’t get it back. It’s irretrievable.
When you give it away, it’s given, it’s gone. But that is as it should be, because after all, you are laying it down.

No greater love.  You lay it down.


Posted December 28, 2017 by swanatbagend in servanthood

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Communication and Interaction: Tips for What you May Notice When You’re Over 40   Leave a comment

Anyone who’s under 40 should definitely read this. Maybe even under 35.

I have a few observations that might be helpful to you as you get older.

The rules change as you get older, and although it might not have done me any good, I wish someone told me these things.  Here’s what I have noticed.

1.  In any group social setting, assume that, if you are older than the people around you, they expect you to initiate the conversation. This applies whether you have never met them or whether you already know them.  So it wouldn’t hurt to stop worrying about whether anyone is noticing you, and notice them by saying hello, smiling, or whatever comes to mind.

2.  People will also assume that, because you are older, you are wiser.  You know things they don’t know. This is, I suppose, true.  A practical application is that they think you already know things, already have friends, already made it through that problem or situation, and they won’t realize you may be just as lost as they are, just as in need of friendship as they are, just as in need of wisdom for the next life event as they are. They will most likely look up to you for what you have accomplished and assume that it was some special knowledge that got you there.

3.  Be OK with the fact that you will not be noticed for your accomplishments, your looks (because you probably don’t have those any more), your hipness (because you aren’t) or your cuteness.  And if like me you have been a big pea in a small pod most of your life, realize that will change.  All you’re experiencing is what other people live every day.  You don’t need other people to ask you how you are, what you think, or what is new in your life, as much as it may feel that you need that.  God will provide exactly what you need, and his attention and regard is yours, all the time.  You have the opportunity to really get to know the people around you, by initiating contact with them and listening to how they are doing and where they are in their lives.  You have something they don’t: experience.  Let them benefit from it.

Acceptance of your new role and position is a hard change, but it’s your best option.  I have wasted too much time analyzing what is different now, what am I doing to put people off, why are people here less friendly than everywhere else I have ever lived, and all of those questions have not really gotten me anywhere.  What I want is to go with what is, and be content.

I hope that for you forewarned will be forearmed.  Just go with it.  It will be different, but different is not necessarily bad.  (Yes, I know it’s scary, but repeat with me while I keep repeating to myself: different is not necessarily bad.)  Hard, yes.  Different, yes.  New, yes. Feels odd, yes.  All that is true.  But I am confident that there is a divine purpose to go along with the new reality.

And hey, being perceived as an expert is part of your new reality.  And I  like that.

Posted March 2, 2014 by swanatbagend in servanthood, transitions

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An Unexpected Conclusion   Leave a comment

The sermon today was on Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.  You could easily see that this could be a sermon on humility and servanthood since those things are in the text.  We were reminded that Jesus’ behavior was completely socially bizarre and that the feet in that day and age would have been completely disgusting.

The rest of what our pastor shared today was not what I expected.

First, our usual motives for serving are guilt, approval and recognition.  Then when we don’t get enough of that (because we never do) we get bitter and tired of serving.

So what is the motive here, what is Jesus doing?  He washes the feet to act out a parable of what he is preparing to do for everyone on the cross.  Jesus does something completely unexpected, interrupting the disciples bickering about who’s the greatest.  He takes off his shirt, pours the water, and starts cleaning their feet.

Not like this is the only time Jesus has served.  He does it every day.  Amazing how someone who is Master and Lord serves, all the time, a balance of power and its use that I can’t fathom.

So…what I heard is that in the church we tend to get the message of it’s about you, how are you serving, how are you supposed to serve?  But I need to shift back to reality and see that first I must allow Jesus to serve me, before I have the power/motivation/desire/will to serve others.  This is what he does for me.  So why do I forget and go barging off into oblivion without being served first?  And then get aggravated because I’ve over committed or am not getting the feedback I wanted?

Yes, we are servants, but who is the source?

I want to remember.

I also loved what Lisle said earlier, that humility is not how you think of yourself, but how you relate to those around you and how you treat them.

Good stuff, you could never be humble.  Anyone who works to be humble is probably thinking often of how well she is doing being  humble, whoops!

So when it was time for the application and conclusion this is what I don’t remember ever hearing before to conclude a sermon about serving:

“You are doing enough.”

Four little words.

Could this be possible?

“Be who you are, where you are.”

We are led to do what God wants us to do, starting this day, where we are.  We don’t have to scratch around to do “enough” to show our gratitude.  Not possible. Rather we have been given the power to do whatever we do because of what Jesus does for us.

Posted January 12, 2014 by swanatbagend in servanthood

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