One of my favorite series I catch on Netflix is “The West Wing.” While watching it, I became aware of a standard response regarding the president’s staff: “I serve at the pleasure of the President.” I don’t know if this response really exists or if it was just for dramatic purposes. But I started thinking about the service issue.
When I was thirteen, I served as a waitress for my cousin’s wedding. Thank you. Yes, I’m still recovering. Let’s just say I was not skilled. I tried not to spill food, break plates and grumble. It was not an easy feat. So, I had a negative view of serving.
But, alas, it’s all over the place in Christianity, isn’t it?
Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.” Deuteronomy 6:13
“…what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” Deuteronomy 10:12
“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” John 12:26
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
Whew! Yeah. Got it.
Anyway, how do we feel about the serving issue?
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7
A lot of us probably have negative associations with the word. We may think of mistreated waitresses, humiliation and irritation. Not exactly the stuff which has people lining up around the block.
Do we, then, challenge our views of the issue? Or do you and I opt out? If we do that, however, do we miss out? Perhaps, that is the better question to ask.
But are we asking it? Or do we ask the question, instead, “what’s in it for me?”
Did Jesus ask that question?
Yeah. Exactly. Feeling sheepish yet?
Scripture tells us we are to follow His lead:
“…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
And concerning the serving issue? Yeah. That’s quite inclusive.
Years ago, as documented in my book, a large shift in my recovery and spiritual life involved serving. Had it not been for that tremendously blessed opportunity, my book and my relationship with God would not be what they are today. Indeed, however imperfectly the process may be, I first learned the powerful principle of “serving at the pleasure of the Savior.”
“…I had allowed my world to become so small, so isolated… That left little room for anyone to get into my life. But…I had to get used to knowing people and being known by them.
…I’d move step by step, it seemed, finding myself stepping into more foreign territory, more questions. Nowhere was this more evident than with one of the best gifts God has given me: an internship program within the church. Within the program, a small group of people focused on both developing their walk with God and serving the Lord through its volunteer service component…
…With this group of fellow God-seekers, everything was amplified, including that whole ‘God’s family’ thing. And I was in need of learning how to become a part of God’s family.
…And during this time, I had now become busier with other things other than weight and body issues. Disordered eating and image habits often consume and take over every part of life…
But now, my life was being taken up more by God and the things of God. I didn’t have the luxury any longer of obsessing about my looks—or for that matter, any other little thing about myself. I had stuff to do. It seemed to be ringing true, the whole thing about losing your life to save it (Luke 9:23-24). Yes, I was so much happier, so much freer, when it wasn’t solely about me, me, and me…
…Over and over again, I need to remind my performance-based self that it’s not about me…God is showing me that He’s patient—and that there’s still more…” (Excerpt taken from Cruse’s book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder”)
As we deal with our struggles, issues, disorders and addictions, let’s take the time to stop and check out our service to others- and to God, Himself. Is it there at all? Are we helping anyone else?
Service is the antidote to the myopic self-focus, which, sooner or later, causes us problems. God has blessings for us which only come by way of serving. Are we, then, missing out on those blessings?
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15
Do we, indeed, serve at the pleasure of the Savior? It’s worth asking and perhaps, adjusting, isn’t it? After all, we want to be the addressee of this scripture:
“His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.'” Matthew 25:21
Concerning the servant then; let’s be one, in a new and different way. Let’s start today.
I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.”