Serve?

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know:  the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.   - Albert Schweitzer
Serving others.  Christians throw this term around like a worn-out softball.   And yet, often the phrase means something completely different among believers themselves.    What does serving others mean to you?   How do we seek to serve?  How do we find the people to serve?

Cross-cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility  by Duane Elmer has been a gem of a read to prepare our hearts for 'serving' in another country.   It seems, though, the more I devour the pages, that I find perfect application to followers of Christ right here in the US.

The author writes of 'principles of servanthood' that build upon one another.   In other words, you really cannot 'serve' someone until you first understand them, learn about them, are trusted by them, accept them and show openness toward them.  Wow... that sounds like a bunch of stuff.

So many times, we want to rush in and be the great savior when really all we are asked to do is begin a slow, humble process of pointing another toward the Great Savior.    Believers are only servants if the people they hope to serve see them as such...  I can say I'm serving the children of La Moskitia all day long, but if those children see me as the gringo who thinks she is better than them, I'm certainly not serving anyone.

The first principle of servanthood upon which all of the remaining principles are built upon is 'openness.'  "Openness with people different than yourself requires that you are willing to step outside your comfort zone to initiate and sustain relationships in a world of cultural differences.  Openness is the ability to welcome people into your presence and make them feel safe."  

If we as believers are unable to first make, at the minimum, a connection with people, how do we expect them to ever care about hearing what we have to say about Jesus?   Many call this hospitality, but the author believes it goes much further than the way we traditionally see hospitality.   An attitude and lifestyle of extending grace to EVERYONE is the foundation of servanthood. 

This concept weaves so beautifully with what God is showing me about the VALUE He places on EACH individual person.    As I try to look every person I see in the eye and offer a smile, I ask myself how open I am to initiating and sustaining a relationship with that person.   The initiation might be easier than the sustaining, I decide.

And I move one more day toward Honduras....   to be continued.

Comments

Clay said…
Good stuff Laura.

You've made a great point. We aren't serving if we are just dropping in and saying to do things our way, everything will be fine. We may be helping them through something, but not necessarily serving them. Only when you build relationships with people can you truly serve because you don't know their real needs until you KNOW them. We want to engage the culture, but not be submersed in it. We have to reach out to people, but so often we try to keep them at arm's length when we do. We have to let our guard down and let those who are non-believers see that we arent perfect either, yet God still loves us.

I'm looking forward to reading this book. It's assigned reading for one of my classes is fall, Cross-Cultural Evangelism and Church Planting. Glad to see you've given it a good review.
Laurie said…
Wow. Powerful stuff. I don't know what the customs are in your region of Honduras, but servants here are the lowest and reviled. EVERYONE wants to BE served. Sometimes it's hard for some of my new friends here to understand that serving isn't a bad thing, it's the model of Christ to a broken world.
Thought provoking for sure Laura!

I continue to pray for you!

Lots of love,
Jill

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