three things about one word: serving

kathyescobar down we go, incarnational, synchroblog 21 Comments

we think that poverty is only being hungry

* this post is part of january’s synchroblog, which is centered on serving others in 2013.  i always like the synchroblog because it challenges me to think about certain topics in new ways.  i wanted to start a new series in 2013  of shorter posts that are called “three things about one word” and i thought this would be a good one to start with.

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“whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Jesus

serving.  when you hear that word, what does it stir up in you?

for some, it’s a positive word, an encouraging one.  you have a huge heart for serving others & it is an inspiring word.  for others it can hit a nerve because of some of our past church experiences where there have been demands made and expectations placed on us and so serving came from a place of obligation, not freedom.

for me, i’m not crazy about the word (for some of the same reasons the word “missional” bugs me) but i believe wholeheartedly in the message behind it.

here are three things about “serving” that come to mind:

1. if we’re not careful, “serving others” can be a way to stay protected and one-up from others.  it can imply “we’re here to give to these poor unfortunate ones” instead of “we are all equals and i have something to receive, too”  most everyone i know has a heart to “serve” but not everyone is open to receiving.  for me, i am way better at giving than receiving, and i have a natural default to the preposition “for” if i’m not careful.  “with” relationships restore dignity and foster transformation for both sides while “to” and “for” ones keep power protected.

2. a better word for “serving”is “caring”.  to me, when i picture serving, i see someone scooping out food in a food line, with a big plastic barrier between “us” and “them.”  i know it’s not always like that, but it really is the easiest way to help.  when we care for others, it doesn’t mean we have to be in the thick of deep crazy relationship with each other (although we might be) but it means it’s more human.  to care means there’s a connection beyond a transaction.

3. what if we thought of serving & caring for others not as an activity once a week or once a month but as a natural & ordinary part of our lives.  that means that we don’t only look for organizations to volunteer for (although of course that can be part of it) but also made a shift to notice what we might not have noticed before and actively respond. what if we made the invisible visible  in all kinds of simple and small ways and developed Jesus-y eyes, the kind that can see beyond the surface.  rich, poor, black, white, there’s a a lot of pain & desperation out there that a little kindness & simple presence can heal.  how about a conversation instead of a simple hello, a cup of cold water instead of writing a check, noticing who might be lonely and paying them a visit, or  an “i believe in you” for the weary soul.

in the year ahead, i am not trying to think of ways to “serve” more but i do want to keep learning what it means to live out the ways of Jesus in ongoing freedom & joy. these three things can help me.  i want to practice receiving as much as giving and knowing hearts and people instead of tasks and being open to passing on small kindnesses instead of big activities.

what are you learning about serving?

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