Marian Wright Edelman is an American activist for children’s rights. She has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. She is president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. She made this statement: “Service is what life is all about.” I wonder how many people wake up every morning with the thought: What can I do to help someone today? It is more likely to be: What can I do to make me happy today!”
David Friedlander, of the United Kingdom who is involved in “The Collective,” which offers Whole System Design Living, wrote that earlier in the last century – and up until today, in some places people pumped water from central wells, ground their wheat at central mills, baked their bread at central ovens and even bathed at centralized bathhouses. Primitive manufacturing technology was limited private ownership for many common things to the very rich. The things people needed most were accessed, not owned. However, as manufacturing technology and the ability to exploit the earth’s resources advanced, nearly everyone got his or her own water, oven, and bath.
As a boy living in Germany after World War II, I remember the village where I lived there was a village bakery oven where the women came to bake their bread. In other words, at one time people relied on a central source for many of their needs. We see this today in many villages in Africa and South America. The point here is that these venues were meant to be places of service to everyone, regardless of their name or position in society. As the Apostle Peter said that God showed us His grace in many different ways. So be good servants and use whatever gift He has given us in a way that will best serve each other. ”1
There is no doubt that we are meant to serve others. Not only does God call us to do so, but serving others is good for our emotional well-being. When we help others, we feel more confident in our abilities. We feel like we have something valuable to offer the world. And that naturally makes us happier as individuals.
Attorney and columnist for “Beliefnet,” Meerabelle Dey, wrote that sometimes we serve others in the wrong way. We serve others in a way that isn’t authentic to who we are. Women are particularly susceptible to this issue. Women are expected to naturally be able to cook, take care of a home and rear children. But not all women are suited to that kind of service. Likewise, men are expected to take care of fixing things around the house, keep the car running in good shape, bring home the family paycheck. But asking people to do what does not come naturally to them is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. It doesn’t work.
The key to living an authentic life of service is to use the unique gifts that God gave each of us, not try to copy or emulate the gifts of others. No one has the same exact gifts as you. No one! God gave each of us special talents for a reason – to bless others. So our challenge is to avoid getting caught up in the world’s or the church’s expectations of how we should serve. Instead, we each need to figure out our unique way to make the world a better place.
So what does the Bible say about this? There are many, many verses but here are a few that make the point very well. King Solomon said that the person who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others will end up being helped.2 And the prophet Azariah, son of Obed during the time of King Asa in Judah, was moved by the Holy Spirit to go out to meet him. He then gave the King this word from the LORD: You, O King, and the people of Judah and Benjamin be strong! Don’t be weak and don’t give up, because you will get a reward for your good work!3
And Jesus left no doubt in the minds of His followers when He told them that even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.4 With this in mind, what would you think – if inanimate objects and animals could speak, if you went in to buy a beautiful candle to light as part of a holiday, and the candle said, “I wasn’t made to burn, just to look pretty?” Or if a lumberjack went to cut down a cedar tree and the tree told him, “Leave me alone! I’m here to soak up nutrients from the ground and rain from the sky so people will take pictures of me!”
After the Apostle Paul met with the elders from the church of Ephesus and headed on to Jerusalem to an uncertain destiny, he wrote his young protégé Timothy who no doubt was worried about him and said: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have served the Lord faithfully. Now, a prize is waiting for me – the crown that will show I am right with God. The Lord, the Judge who judges rightly, will give it to me on that Day. Yes, He will give it to me and to everyone else who is eagerly looking forward to his coming.”5
Also, the Apostle Peter clearly understood that he, as well as the others, were called by Jesus to be more than just followers and listeners, but doers. That why he wrote that God showed them His grace in many different ways. So be good servants and use whatever gift He gave you in a way that will best serve each other.6 And the Apostle James was not hesitant to tell his readers that just as a person whose soul left their body is dead, so the believer whose faith never moves them to do anything is spiritually dead.7 And the Apostle John gave a similar warning when he told his readers that our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the way we serve others.8
So always keep this in mind every morning when you wake up and as you have prayer before starting your day that God called you, redeemed you, chose you, and empowered you to be a light to this world, to let Him use you as His hands, His feet, His ears, His eyes, His touch, and His voice to help others. Think of every day as another opportunity to make the One who died on your behalf on the cross proud of you as the apple of His eye. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 1 Peter 4:10
2 Proverbs 11:25
3 2 Chronicles 15:7
4 Matthew 20:28
5 2 Timothy 4:7-8
6 1 Peter 4:10
7 James 2:26
8 1 John 3:18