Serving is… SIMPLE. Not always easy, but simple.
That’s an important distinction: simple is not always easy. For example, we can be leaders and serve others by being truly present in each moment, fully engaged with the people who are in front of us. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Not so, for me. I often feel like I need to rush through things to get to what’s next. And I confess that as I wrote this article, I was frequently distracted by a little girl who sometimes has much more to say than I think I’m capable of listening to in a given moment. Ever been there? It was honestly a real struggle for me to get myself to put the laptop down, let go of work for the two hours left before bedtime, and not worry about how to make the time pass quickly so I could finish my writing.
I had the same struggle while I was with other adults and teens on the mission trip to South Carolina a few weeks ago. The photo here, which some of you may recognize from my original Facebook post, tells a story — maybe something like, “You can use a power tool even if you’re pregnant!” — but it hides an underlying dynamic. Every time their was a new board to cut, I had to remind myself that it was much more important to let the kids use the circular saw and realize their own potential in building things for the Kingdom than it was to get things done efficiently. This was a point that our Emily, our Youth Director, mentioned several times, and it was a crucial reminder for me to remain engaged in the moment and remember why we were there, rather than rushing to the next step in our project.
I’ve found that leadership, and discipleship in general, frequently involves such experiences: we want others to just “get it” so we can move on to someone else, or to some other focus area. Whenever I take the time to reflect on this, however, I remember the truth as taught and lived by Jesus: serving is simple. Focus on one person, one thing at a time. Instead of grabbing a water to go, “sit by the well” while you drink and converse with others around you.
Serving doesn’t necessarily have to involve planning a service project weeks in advance, following a set curriculum, or even leaving our neighborhoods. God designed us to live in community with others, and we’re already situated in communities where we can serve in simple, meaningful ways.
Here are just a few more examples of how simply being present in a moment can allow you to serve others:
Commit to spending the hour before dinner talking and playing together as a family or with your roommates, with everyone’s phones and other electronics put away.
Ask a coworker or lifeGroup buddy to get ice cream or a drink with you after work, and take an hour or two to catch up (again sans phones).
Read to your child’s class once a week and make eye contact with each child, noticing how their little faces drink in the story you’re telling.
When a friend shares how tired (s)he’s been lately, listen, and offer to babysit his or her kid(s) for an evening.
When someone who’s dealing with an illness, work crisis, or other struggle crosses your mind, pause whatever you’re doing and send a text message to let them know you’re in their corner.
Matthew 25:40 The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these bothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
What reminders or practices have you found that help you to remain engaged in the moment?