To Serve or To Be Served – It’s Not About Me

Matthew 20:20-28 (NIV)

             When did you learn to love Jesus? Or when did you know you loved Jesus? Were you ever a church nerd?

            Growing up I fit the phrase “church nerd.” I had no hand in making myself a church nerd. I blame it all on my mother who demanded it of me. I went to Sunday School, Sunday morning church services, Sunday night church services, Wednesday night prayer meetings, choir practice, and in the summer Vacation Bible School. As a teen, I went to Church Camp. So you see, I had no control over my life. And for that, I say, “Thank you, Jesus!”

            Every church offering that my mother sent me to helped in my spiritual growth. Had it not been for her demands who knows where I might have ended up? I was a wild and crazy kid. This type of structure tamped down that wild and crazy side.

            Were you ever asked to “help out” in church? There are those among us who cringe at the thought of “helping out” at church. I remember the days when I taught an adult Sunday School class. We were known as the JOY Class (Jesus Others Yourself). I loved that class. We lived in Marietta, Georgia at the time and the church we attended was without a doubt the best church we’ve ever attended. Past and present. We raised our children in that church. The minister—the best there ever was to stand at the pulpit.

            Serving our church became a pleasure and a privilege. I was a member of UMW (United Methodist Women). It’s a club where a group of women meet to do Bible study, socialize, and do charity work. I loved it.

            It’s never easy to give of yourself regularly much less for a church. Seems as though churches have taken a bad rap for always asking their congregants to do something. It’s like you say yes to something and then they just keep asking. One thing after another. But guess what? That’s service. There’s no limit to it. You don’t just serve and then you’re done. Jesus never stopped serving. We need to be more like Him. And, trust me, it ain’t easy.

            I’ve also served my church in other ways. I’ve taught Vacation Bible School.

What an experience that was. It borders on crazy! But I loved it just the same.

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I’ve done visitation ministry whereby I visited an assisted living home. That too touched my heart and my soul. My husband and I have served in other ministries as well.

When we join the church, we learn to serve. Jesus’ followers were taught to lead by service. The disciples didn’t understand this, especially James and John the Zebedee kids. After Jesus talks about his pending death the mom of James and John comes to him and asks a favor. She believes Jesus will be a king. She wants her sons to get in on the bottom floor of Jesus’ fame and become princes. She believes something powerful is about to happen. I’m not so sure her intentions were honorable.

            Jesus tells her that she doesn’t know what she’s asking. He asks her if her sons are willing to take His cup and then go through what He’s about to go through. He then tells her that her request is not His to grant.

            She doesn’t get that. Jesus wasn’t sent here to be a king or to even have power, he was sent to serve. If we are to learn anything from Jesus it is that one point—to serve. Look around and you’ll see all sorts of people in leadership positions. Famous people and what’s known as royals. The confusion comes when these people in leadership or fame don’t get that they are here to serve and not be served. If I’m totally honest I should make the point that it drives me stinkin’ crazy that they don’t get it.

            If we open our eyes, we’ll see so many ways to serve. Martin Luther King, Jr. made an excellent analysis regarding service. In his speech, he said, “Recognize he who is greatest among you shall be a servant. Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” All I’ve got to say to that is, “Amen, my brother!”

            This begs the question, “What are you doing for others?” We will find the greatest joy of our lives when we give up our lives to serve. Because…it’s not about you and it’s not about me. It’s about serving with a happy heart. Never expecting something in return. As I child I thought if I gave someone something then they owed me. But that’s a child’s way of thinking. So when we serve we do it freely with no expectations.

            The symbol of the story is to serve—like a towel to wipe feet or like the yoke on an ox. Or simply stopping to offer a hand.

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Little things done with great love are the things that change the world.

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Remember always the power of…

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And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!

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