That word can evoke many types of emotion. Good and bad.
If I am at a restaurant: I am glad for that waiter who serves. And I expect good service.
If I am doing the fifth load of laundry of the day and a Suvar-child walks in with mud from toe to teeth, and I serve my family with clean laundry...well that type of service can sometimes rub the wrong way.
Thankfully, a friend recommended One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. I came across this part of the book and it has stuck with me:
Whenever man is made the center of things he becomes the storm-center of trouble. The moment you think of serving people, you begin to have a notion that other people owe you something for your pains…You begin to bargain for reward, to angle for applause...When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it’s true, I think I am due some appreciation. So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy. But when Christ is at the center, when dishes, laundry, work, is my song of thanks for Him, joy rains. Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all…the work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness.
I feel like it was something I had heard before, something I had told myself "Do all to the glory of God" and all that stuff. But maybe it was the combination with scripture that I had read earlier in the day:
He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:2
I think that is part of my problem.
Looking for something in return.
Life as a houseparent, life as a parent, you don't necessarily get something in return for the work you do.
Sometimes a simple thank you would suffice, but those are often lacking, too.
But Jesus served. He loved. And didn't look for anything in return.
He healed 10 lepers!
And only one came back to thank him. Makes me wonder how often thank yous were thrown Jesus' way...
But as the verse in Ephesians says, love by giving everything. When I think of it I get a picture of myself serving, giving, without expectation, to the point that at the end of the day I am empty.
So that He can fill me back up.
When I give of myself completely, everyday, my life may look like this at the end of the day:
- worn out body
- messy living room
- laundry still needing to be folded
- dirty dishes stacked by the sink
- quality conversations made with the 13-year-old
- snuggle on the couch with the 3-year-old
- meaningful time with the husband
- heart warmed from relationships built just a bit stronger
I think that if more of that "me time" was spent as "God time" - a time we turned to Him to fill us back up when our tank is running on empty, I think we could find stamina we didn't think we had.
This slant on service has come at a great time for me, heading into summer with 7 teenagers and 3 kiddos out of school. I have been finding myself, when being asked to do something, come here and see something just as I was sitting down, just telling myself "Serve."
And I can feel my heart turn soft. Because when I see it as serving God and not man. Serving when looking for nothing in return.
Well. That makes all the difference.