Saturday, March 13, 2010

Serve


Serve

“…rather, serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

Many days (I would like to say every day, but that wouldn’t be true!), when I get down to some dedicated prayer time, I end my time with the Lord with Charles Stanley’s Six Ss (www.intouch.org) . 

The prayer goes something like this:
  • Lord, I Surrender all that I am, do, think, to you today.
  • Please make me SENSITIVE to your Holy Spirit.
  • Allow me Lord to remember I can pray without ceasing today, turning toward SUPPLICATION in the moment.
  • To read and recall your Words through SCRIPTURE.
  • To be willing to say no to myself, be more concerned about someone else and engage in a little SELF-DENIAL.
  • And to remember that I can SERVE this day in some way.
  • In Jesus name, Amen!

I really appreciate those six Ss. They are actually simple but powerful. However, many times, they just sort of roll off my tongue without too much thought. They are like the final period after my sentences of prayer. And that thought strikes me sometimes…help me to pay more attention to my very own prayers, Lord. When I do give this prayer a little more attention, I often camp on one thought. Yesterday, the thought was, “Am I serving you, Lord? Am I doing enough intentionally to serve others? In fact, what am I doing to serve?”

I tucked that thought away as I went about my day…

I had to get my computer fixed, so that was one of the first things on my list of the day’s activities. I went in for my scheduled appointment and met with Doug, a really nice young guy…very pleasant and helpful. We connected right away over his upcoming trip to Disney World—one of my favorite places and topics!

As he was working with me, a whirlwind of a woman came in. Our appointments overlapped, so Doug began doing double-duty with both of us. I was patient and calm; intentionally so, because I can be the opposite…and I really needed my computer…and I was there first. And as I observed “the other woman,” I thought, “Well, this can be an area of service…To remain patient and appreciative of the work Doug is doing so pleasantly and continues to do even in the face of a demanding customer. In some small way I can ‘serve’ Doug a little by acting a little more like Jesus and a little less like me.”

The woman came in with a lot of energy…sort of slapped down the computer, whisked out her service contract, and angrily demanded what she clearly felt she deserved and was sure she wasn’t going to get. I found myself barely looking at her, as I didn’t really want to get embroiled in her attitude. I could feel her glancing at me for a little support. But I was having none of it. Then the thought crept into my mind, “This is an opportunity for you to be kind and engaging, even though you are a little put off by this woman. To serve and reach out with a little compassion. You won’t ‘catch’ her anger…” I chatted a little with her, Doug walked her through the problem and solution, and she left a little calmer herself. We exchanged “Good luck.” And the air was a little lighter.

Next stop, well, while I was waiting for my computer, I might as well do a little shopping. I mean how else could I spend this hour or so (plenty of ways, but that’s beside the point!)? I entered the shop filled with a new spring collection bursting with bright colors. It really was a picker-upper to see these flashes of pinks, turquoise, yellow, after a long winter. The clerk graciously offered to take my growing bundle and bring my selections to the dressing room. I was intentionally thankful and made sure to make eye contact, as the thought occurred to me, “How many times does this lovely gal offer her help only to have women barely look at her?” When I went to pay, there she was again. We had a nice chat about my extremely reasonable purchases, went on to a discussion of our weight, dieting, exercise…actually encouraged one another. I left the store feeling happy with a bit of a spring in my step. We had served each other in a way. Going beyond the pleasantries to engage a little.

Finally, before heading to pick up my computer, I decided to grab a little something to eat. The guy behind the counter was nice enough, but here again, when I chatted with him a little beyond placing my order, I noticed there was a little spark between us…He gave me a bright smile as we parted. “Have a nice day.” “You too!”

God had answered my prayer. The one to SERVE, but also the one about being SENSITIVE to the Holy Spirit. I had heard that still small voice saying to me throughout the day, “This is the way, walk in it. Serve my people by being a little kinder, a little gentler, a little more engaging today.” I had seen how easy it could be to serve in this subtle little way that makes existing in this sometimes harsh, angry world a bit more pleasant…for me and those I came in contact with.

What’s your story? Do you ever wonder how you can serve the Lord in this world? Ever been frustrated that you aren’t serving at all or serving enough? Have you found simple ways to serve? Tell me your story!

6 comments:

  1. Every day there are ways to serve while carrying out our ordinary tasks. Little ways to reach out such as a smile, hug, positive comment, helping hand all go a long way. I recently saw an acquaintance shopping, we hadn't connected in a long time. She had a tragedy in her life this past year, I spoke a few encouraging words to her. Then when I returned home, I sent out a card expressing some heartfelt kind words of encouragement.

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  2. Good Lord (literally and figuratively) I believe you've hit the NAIL ON THE HEAD Elise. Jesus didn't give his life to judge or alienate. His was a message of love...I have no doubt and it's almost past faith (I'm sold)! It's so simple it doesn't need explaining-yet it's so rare. Lost in the debate over interpretation...it's the daily simple RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS principle. You know "pay it forward". It's letting the harried mom under the watchung tressle have the right of way (with your kid in the car with a drivers permit) It's letting the young woman with 4 items ahead of you in line, and perhaps it's just as important to gush over those daily niceties sent YOUR way. It comes down to "putting your money where your mouth is"...and it's HARD!!!! Not a day goes by that I don't admonish myself for seeing the speck in others eyes when I have so many planks in my own! I don't see personal faith as joining a lobby or march, but rather FORCING myself to practice (like Elise in the computer incident) tolerant, non-judgmental moments...giving the benefit of the doubt, showing compassion. It's soooooo hard, but Jesus didn't mean it to be easy. But taking the high road means peace and personal serenity. . How many times could our savior have "schooled and ripped a new one" and he opted to impart his message through tolerance and kindness. It might not be rocket science...but I believe it's just as hard to achieve. Don’t preach…LIVE the word: even though your life might seem trivial. I believe that God appreciates a housewife defending a weaker neighbor as much (if not more) as a political leader preaching against “don’t ask, don’t tell” . Better yourself (through scripture or meditation) and don't sweat the small stuff. For me it's a goal (going on 14 years) but it keeps me in line. More importantly, I see my children chatting up "crazies" on the street and standing up to defend the "easy victims" at their school...and I know that God is showing me the grace to be had in ever day life!

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  3. Love these thoughts! I am so convicted about how easily I (figuratively, I hope) brush someone aside in my rush to get my agenda accomplished--my husband, when he just wants a few moments to tell me something important to him and my impatience is obvious; my daughter who wants to unload her day a little, but I "just have to finish this one thing." Yes, love and charity begin at home. There is a sign that hangs over the exit from Grace Presbyterian Church, "You are now entering the mission field." So true, yet I could go even further. I could have the sign hanging outside my door at the "entrance" (my home a mission field too) and then on the inside as a reminder of the whole world as a mission field. Oh Lord help me to remember this always at all times! Simple but so "not" easy!!!

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  4. Last week, I was talking to a friend who had moved away, and SHE made MY day! She told me how she had showed kindness to another person, "because I thought of what you said, that I may not be able to pay you back for what you've done for me, and that I should just pass it on and help someone else."
    I don't relate this to puff myself up, but because it really illustrated how a bit of kindness can reap MORE kindness, like a chain reaction. And her comment reminded me that yes, I can make a difference in small, everyday ways. As you pointed out, Elise, it's a sensitivity to seeing what's in front of us day in and day out, of letting God guide our actions instead of going through the motions only concerned about ourselves.

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  5. Yes, Penny! Exactly why I realized as I thought about SERVE, I was reminded that it takes another of the Six Ss, SENSITIVITY to the Holy Spirit. I don't want to miss out on those opportunities to give a little blessing...and we do get multiple benefits ourselves, including entering a circle of kindness. Doesn't always work that way. As a matter of fact, later that day in the library, I very kindly asked someone if she was leaving because I wanted her seat with the electrical power and all. (Remember the college library carrolls?) Oh my gosh, she snarled at me and said, "NO!!" I have to admit, my Serve attitude was drained for a few moments as I walked away silently muttering and feeling a bit deflated. But because I was sensitized that day, I did quickly get over my easily hurt feelings.

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  6. That's great Leesie, an interesting story and a good reminder! I love the idea of the Ss, and I am gonna put that in my prayer journal. Keep writing and blogging, even if it feels a little less than inspiring to you, you never know how it is blessing all these other people! Thanks for the thoughtful post on my blog. I love you much!

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