This is the third post reflecting on Kerry Wyatt Kent’s book Deeply Loved; if you’d like to read my first two reflections click here and here. Today I want to reflect on her thoughts regarding service.
Kent’s words were, to me, comforting to read. In some ways for me they almost “lowered the bar”, so to speak in regarding expectations for service, but the more I thought about it I realize how difficult what she’s writing about can be. I’ll just be honest and say that one of the things that drives me crazy is always being asked to serve – I get tired of hearing it. This isn’t directed at anyone in particular, so if you’re reading it and find yourself thinking, “He’s talking about me” rest assured I’m not. Here’s my gripe though – we seem to have defined “service” as only doing some sort of formal work for the church or some community organization. And while that’s important, service is so much more than that. I get tired of the implication that when I don’t serve in some “official” capacity I’m not serving.
I really believe that I have three main acts of service God has given me – so when someone asks me to serve in another capacity I have to weigh it against those priorities. I suppose it’s cliché to say it, but I take Colossians 3:23 literally – I don’t work for anyone but the Lord. And right now he’s given me three primary responsibilities: my family, my job, and my school. That means that I need to value family time with my wife and girls, I need to be devoted to my job and give it everything I have, and when it’s time to study I need to do that to the best of my ability. Some people have accused me of using that to avoid service, but I don’t think it is – I truly believe I’m focusing on what is important and serving where God has called me to serve. I will be the first to tell you I often struggle to give my wife and girls the best part of my time, which to me says I don’t need to add anything else to my plate right now.
But more than that, service is what we do every moment of every day. It’s letting someone get off the elevator before me, or opening the door as I walk into a building. Read what Kent writes:
“The simple things you do to care for your family, the work you do to provide for others, the way you treat customers or coworkers – all of this can be service to God, if you choose to see it that way.”
This is what I meant when I said that when I first read the chapter I felt like the bar got lowered – I was reminded that I need to view every act I do every day as service and I felt like I did that, so I felt vindicated against those who would try to convict me – here was a quote I could use to prove to them I was correct. But then I got to the application part of the chapter, and that’s when the bar got raised again:
“A simple way to practice service is to be open to interruptions, to give your attention to those who ask for it. When you are interrupted, decide that you will see that interruption as one that comes not from the person before you but from God.”
Well there went my feel-good moment! I hate to be interrupted. I’ll let the phone right (voicemail can answer) or close the office door to avoid interruptions. I’m ashamed to admit it, but too often I’ll put off something with the girls until I finish what I’m doing. I hate to be interrupted. And, worse than that, I let people know I don’t like to be interrupted. I don’t do it intentionally, but I recognize that my tone of voice and my body language communicate loud and clear that I’m not happy with the interruption. I’m selfish, and there’s no getting around it when it glares me in the face. Yet according to Kent, allowing for the interruption can be an act of service in itself.
Last week I posted a link on my Facebook wall that someone had shared with me about the “iPhone Mom”. I thought it was a great reminder to live in the moment, to literally allow for the interruption. And, in all honesty, when I read it I didn’t read it as written to “mom” but to “dad” (since I’m a dad) – I wasn’t trying to put down mothers or say anything negative about them. But boy was that a mistake – I quickly found out there was a massive back-lash against the author for writing what she wrote (you can read two of the responses here and here). I’m not here to support or defend the post, since obviously sharing the original one got me in trouble! But as I reflect back on it I think the reason it struck a chord with me was that author was trying to say is what Kent was saying in this application section – open yourself up to the interruption (at least that’s how I read it).
I have a long, long way to g(r)o(w) here, and I rest in the grace knowing that God is working in me, he is molding me into the person he wants me to be. This particular day made me re-evaluate (again) my priorities, and recognize where I needed to change and improve. And, with God’s grace, tomorrow will be better than today.