The Death of a Man: A Meditation on Real Service

Long posts lately, I’m noticing.  Too long-winded, I suppose.  Long-worded, I mean.  Many-worded, to be more accurate.  Ah, the pursuit of clarity never ends.  It takes a lot of work to be precise, doesn’t it?  I’ll put that one aside for now lest I become many-worded again (although the more I think about it, working hard in order to be precise is a very important thing).  Now for some journaling whiplash:

I think that you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a person is truly a seasoned servant when you and others stop noticing their service.  Not to say that at some point in this life we become wholly Christ-like.  But when people stop noticing that you serve and stop thanking you profusely when you serve and start assuming that you’ll serve and start treating you like a servant, then I think that you are beginning to understand and live biblical service.

How did Jesus serve?  Constantly.  People just came to him and expected Him to help them and expected Him to heal them and expected Him to protect them and expected Him to provide for them and expected Him to stand boldly when everyone else was running away.  Because of the way that He had lived among them and how He had served them, they just assumed His service.  And that’s when the dying comes.  That’s when the pain starts.  That’s when the pride and the self-pity and the attention-seeking manipulation starts to rear its ugly head.  That’s when the battle starts.  And what a battle it is!

For me, it’s easy to serve when my service is noticed or when I’m thanked for it or when I enjoy what I’m doing.  But it’s like culture shock for the soul when my service is unnoticed, when my late nights and early mornings go unknown, when I’m asked to do something I’m not good at or don’t enjoy or that “someone else should have done.”  And it’s absolutely brutal when I’m treated like a servant — when it’s just assumed that I’ll help.  But isn’t that true service?  What did I expect?

My problem is that I think that when I serve others, I’m stooping down.  And that almost unconscious, back-of-the-mind thought is one of the biggest, most subtle lies of the heart, and one of the most perverted, subversive deceptions that stands in stark contrast to the concept of biblical service.  Christ stooped down to serve me (Philippians 2).  But I have never stooped to serve anyone.  I’m already a servant.  That’s my job.  That’s my role.  That’s my place.  And if by the grace of God I can ever be trained to think that way, I will then be a true servant.  It’s my job to stack the chairs.  It’s my role to stay up until 3am at the hospital.  It’s my place to give lots of ‘my’ (God’s) money to the church.  It’s my privileged place to do whatever needs to be done for whoever needs it.  It’s not special.  It’s not spectacular.  It’s not worthy of praise.

I ought not to notice that I’m serving.  Ever.  And I pray that I might serve so much and so heartily and so joyfully and so constantly that others will virtually cease to notice.  I pray that it might just become who I am.  Does a servant marvel and wonder at the fact that he’s doing his job?  Of course not.  He just does it.  Because he knows that that’s what he is.  He isn’t impressed by the hardships he is asked to overcome.  He doesn’t pity himself that he has to get in line last because he’s the servant.  He doesn’t inwardly whine when he’s told (not asked) to stay up late and clean up.  Learn to serve, Gunner.  Learn to really serve.  And realize that when you notice how much you’re serving, you’re not really serving.  You’re *acting* like you’re a servant, but you don’t really believe that you are one.  Christ lowered Himself to serve me.  But I have no high place from which to lower myself.  I am low.  I am base.  I am a servant.  Thank You, Father, that I am a servant (not just a servant, but at least a servant).  What a wonderful thing to be.  What a wonderful Master to serve.  And what a reward awaits those who “die every day” in His service.

May we be so blessed as to become people whom others always expect a “yes” answer from when they ask if we have time to help (and who will give our time, even when we don’t have it — *especially* when we don’t have it); whose sacrifices are so constant that they begin to go unnoticed; whose service is so joyful that we stop being thanked; whose hearts are so ready that we never hesitate to say “sure” right when someone asks; who believe we actually are servants; whose broad and full and pure smiles say “my pleasure” louder than words ever could; who recognize and hate our self-pitying pride; who learn to recognize needs so precisely and so quickly that we don’t need to be asked to help; and who truly believe that he who loses his life every day for Jesus’ sake and for the Gospel’s sake will find it.

“Selfless.”  “Sacrifice.”  “Service.”  So often talked about, so often praised, so often preached about, but how often truly and wholly lived?  So many biblical concepts and commands and callings are so much deeper than I know them to be.  Teach me to think, Father.  Teach me to see.  Teach me to serve.

“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’?  But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’?  He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?  So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done'” (Luke 17:7-10).


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