Tag Archives: service

How Do We Not Waste Our Life?

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Don’t waste your life! At times, this sounds like a lot of pressure to me. That may sound funny, but it’s true. You see, I really don’t want to waste my life. I want it to count. And by the way, I think everyone wants to live a life of purpose. The reality is that I think we are just as much afraid of succeeding at the wrong things as we are of failure.

So what do we do to live lives that count? How do we not waste our life? Once again, when I think about these questions, I freak out a bit. I read and hear of people doing extraordinary things for the Kingdom and when I compare myself to them, it seems I have wasted  so much of my life. And so as a result, I put a lot of pressure on myself. The question of my life becomes “Am I doing enough?”

Now I don’t think we should avoid ever reflecting on how we live. I just wonder if we sometimes put undo pressure on ourselves as we compare our lives with others. Many times I think my life is pretty mundane. And most likely you do too. So what does it mean not to waste your life if you are just a “normal” person with a “normal” job?

I’m a bottom line guy. I do like details (well, sort of), but when it comes to some things, I try not to get too lost in them. Therefore, for me, the bottom line of not wasting your life is this: SERVING OTHERS! Regardless of your job or where you live, serve those around you.

Nothing you do is too insignificant for the contribution of the Kingdom. The so-called mundane tasks in life can result in service to others. But we must pay attention. Going to get groceries? Could be an opportunity to serve. Filling up your car with gas? Could be an opportunity to serve. Doing laundry or dishes? Definitely an opportunity to serve.

As we become engrossed in the story of God, and as it rewrites our own story, we become open to serving anywhere and anyhow. Sometimes this means that we just be a good neighbor. Other times it might mean we need to pack up our bags and take the gospel to those who don’t have access to it. Or it might mean giving money to someone so they can go. Regardless of what it might be, we serve. And nothing should be considered small for “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Quote Of The Week

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The hero of mythology descends from the sky, gaining fame and glory through courage, violence, and power. He then dies, His grave becoming a sight of hero worship. Christ defies this cycle. He emerges from the tomb, remaking the world with resurrection power, ascending to heaven because of His humility, His servant leadership. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the world would never be the same. Those who bow their knee at the foot of the cross admitting the absurdity of their own efforts to be godlike, who confess the chaos and sin within them, now enter into a new way of being–one not driven by striving, agenda, or applause. For these followers of Jesus would be taught to follow this new way of living…service!

(taken from Facing Leviathan by Mark Sayers, location 2235 in Kindle)

Quote of the Week

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Service is the greatest act humans can do, as it imitates the self-giving life of God. If Jesus is the most deserving recipient, then denying ourselves and serving Jesus is the most satisfying thing we can ever do. The road may not alway be easy, but have you ever met anyone who regretted taking up their cross and following Jesus? I’ve never heard an older saint say, “You know what? I wish I had lived a little less committed to the Lord. If I had to do it over again, I would have been a bit more selfish with my time and money, especially when I was establishing my family and career. I would be better off if I had served Jesus less.”

(taken from Becoming Worldly Saints by Michael Wittmer p. 83)

The Ministry Of Proclaiming

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The highest service to perform, according to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is the proclamation of the Word. This ministry of the Word is the fourth and final service in which Bonhoeffer believes the Christian community owes to each other.

Though Bonhoeffer does believe the proclamation of the Word is the most crucial service, this does not negate the others. He writes that “where the ministry of listening, active helpfulness, and bearing with others is faithfully performed, the ultimate and highest service can also be rendered, namely, the ministry of the Word of God.”

It is only when we listen, help, and bear with others that the door is opened to speak the word into their lives. Bonhoeffer writes:

If [speaking the word] is not accompanied by worthy listening, how can it really be the right word for the other person? If it is contradicted by one’s own lack of active helpfulness, how can it be a convincing and sincere word? If it issues, not from a spirit of bearing and forbearing, but from impatience and the desire to force its acceptance, how can it be the liberating and healing word?

Don’t Fear!

We must not fear this responsibility to speak the Word to one another. If we cannot bring ourselves to speak God’s Word, then we need to reexamine our view of our Christian brother or sister. Regardless of “how old or highly placed or distinguished [a Christian brother] may be,” writes Bonhoeffer, “he is still a man like us, a sinner in crying need of God’s grace. He has the same great necessities that we have, and needs help, encouragement, and forgiveness as we do.”

One thing that helps us in speaking the Word to others is allowing others to speak the Word to us. If we humbly accept reproof from God’s Word spoken by others, then “the more free and objective will we be in speaking ourselves.” Bonhoeffer writes that “the person whose touchiness and vanity make him spurn a brother’s earnest censure cannot speak the truth in humility to others; he is afraid of being rebuffed and of feeling that he has been aggrieved.” But let humility reign and we will speak the word because the humble “seeks nothing for himself and has no fears for himself, [so] he can help his brother through the Word.”

Speak It In Everyday Life

What Bonhoeffer means by speaking the Word to one another is important to understand. It is not necessarily done in a formal gathering but in the day to day activities with one another. He writes that “what we are concerned with here is the free communication of the Word from person to person, not by the ordained ministry which is bound to a particular office, time, and place.”

“God has put His Word in our mouth,” writes Bonhoeffer. “He wants it to be spoken through us. If we hinder His Word, the blood of the sinning brother will be upon us. If we carry out His Word, God will save our brother through us.” Fairly strong words for us to speak the Word. But we must remember that it is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12).

Let’s not back away from speaking the Word to others today. For all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). But let’s do so only as we listen, help, and bear one another’s burden.

 

The Ministry Of Bearing

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What does it mean to serve one another? This is the question that I have been thinking through as I have been highlighting a portion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together (chapter 4). Bonhoeffer writes of four acts of service in which he believes the Christian community owes each other. So far, I have posted about the ministry of listening and the ministry of helpfulness. Today, we discuss the third act of service, the ministry of bearing.

The Ministry of Bearing

Paul wrote that we should bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). “Thus,” writes Bonhoeffer, “the law of Christ is a law of bearing. Bearing means forbearing and sustaining. The brother is a burden to the Christian, precisely because he is a Christian. For the pagan the other person never becomes a burden at all. He simply sidesteps every burden that others may impose upon him.”

For Bonhoeffer, “the Christian must bear the burden of a brother” for “it is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated.” It is our duty as believers to bear with one another and therefore show to the world that we are Christ’s disciples. Jesus said: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35). Is not love exhibited as we bear with one another?

What Does It Mean To Bear With One Another?

Bonhoeffers lists two things that we bear for one another. The first is freedom. We do not “play God” in the brother’s life and seek to control or manipulate, but we let “God create His image in him” instead of us “stamping our image upon him.”

“The freedom of the other person,” writes Bonhoeffer, “includes all that we mean by a person’s nature, individuality, endowment. It also includes his weaknesses and oddities, which are such a trial to our patience, everything that produces frictions, conflicts, and collisions among us.” But we bear with them. We are not quick to judge or coerce but instead, walk with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love (Eph. 4:2).

The second thing we bear is sin. Sin is much harder to bear than freedom for “here the Christian suffers the rupture of his fellowship with the other person that had its basis in Jesus Christ.” However, “it is only in bearing with him that the great grace of God becomes wholly plain.” Did not Christ welcome and receive us in the midst of our sin? Did he not bear our sin and forgive? How much more should we forgive one another?

It is the bearing of sins that should lead one to self-examination instead of judgment. Bonhoeffer writes that “when does sin ever occur in the community that he must not examine and blame himself for his own unfaithfulness in prayer and intercession, his lack of brotherly service, of fraternal reproof and encouragement, indeed for his own personal sin and spiritual laxity, by which he has done inure to himself, the fellowship, and the brethren?”

The Strength To Bear With One Another

The power to bear with one another is to know that “he who is bearing others knows that he himself is being borne, and only in this strength can he go on bearing.” It’s humbling to realize that someone is “bearing our burdens” and that we stand in continual need of forgiveness for our offenses.

The Christian community forgives, however, and accepts us in all our quirkiness trusting that God is transforming us. So when we are quick to judge and wish to push off bearing with our Christian brother or sister, may we remember that first, Christ has borne our sins, and second, so have many in our Christian community.

The Ministry of Helpfulness

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As I continue to expand upon Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s 4 services/ministries in which the Christian community owes to each other (found in his book Life Together), I am continually made aware of the life-giving nature of each. And I’m also amazed at the simplicity of them. Each service can be and should be performed by each member of the body of Christ.

The First Service

The first service that Bonhoeffer mentions and in which I expounded upon earlier was the ministry of listening. When we listen, we “listen with the ears of God,” writes Bonhoeffer. And with the fast-paced, information saturated, social media-driven world in which we live, listening has become lost. But if we will decide to perform the ministry of listening, as has been given to us by God, it will be much like giving water to a parched man or woman.

The Second Service

The service that is being highlighted in this post is the second of the four. It is the ministry of helpfulness. Bonhoeffer writes that helpfulness is “simple assistance in trifling external matters.” It’s important to notice that Bonhoeffer sees that the helpfulness we give to others is in the ordinary day to day needs that come about. It’s not that we don’t help one another during crisis times. Those are quite apparent. What might not be readily recognizable are the “trifling” matters.

Just as was true for the ministry of listening, our tendency towards busyness, as well as our bent towards making everything about ourselves, can make it hard for us to sometimes see and help with the needs of those around us. However, Bonhoeffer writes that “we must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God as He will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.”

To have our day or plans interrupted does not always bring a joyful response from us. And such negative attitudes reveals our heart of selfishness. This is why Bonhoeffer says that we need humility. “It is the part of the discipline of humility,” he writes, “that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.”

Though Bonhoeffer writes of the ministry of helpfulness as that which we owe each other as a Christian community, helping those around us who are outside the church is also needed. So we must look around us to see the needs. And once again, these are not necessarily the huge crisis moments. It could be that someone just needs help carrying his/her paperwork to the office.

Bonhoeffer wants us to remember that helpfulness, most importantly, opens the door for God’s Word to be shared. He writes: “Only where hands are not too good for deeds of love and mercy in everyday helpfulness can the mouth joyfully and convincingly proclaim the message of God’s love and mercy.” Many of us have heard the saying that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Bonhoeffer would agree.

So let’s do life today with open eyes, hearts, and hands that are willing to be interrupted!

A Tale of Three Moms

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So here is a tale of three moms…

First, there is a mom and grandmother whose heart of service could be rivaled by none. If anyone, especially family, were to enter her house and not feel blessed to be there, it was a rarity.

Most often, her way of service was in cooking. There was no such thing as a small meal. Even partaking in a “light” breakfast with only toast meant having the option of 3 to 4 home-made jellies and jams. There was no such thing as leaving her house hungry.

Second, there is a mom who was an example of grace. Forgiveness flowed from heart to those around her. Most often, such grace was needed for her son. Many times, her kindness and forgiveness were enough to change his course of direction.

For this mom, it was never about her for some reason. She never boasted in herself. In fact, it wasn’t until she died at an early age that her son began to hear just how much she cared for others at her job. True, she was a nurse and caring was her job, but there was something different about the way she took care of others. Most likely it was because of her grace-filled life.

Finally, there’s a mom who is filled with love. There is not a day that goes by in which she does not show love to her kids in one way or another. And there’s not a day that goes by in which she doesn’t tell them how much they are loved. Her favorite words to her children are “I love you!”

Her love has not only blessed her children, but her husband as well. Her love has made the home a place of laughter and peace. Bottom line: her love has transformed her home and is molding her children to become true servants of others.

Now this tale of three moms is not just about some random folks.  It is a tale about my grandmother, my mom, and my wife. And though there is much more that could be written, each, by the grace of God, has modeled for me a heart of service, grace, and love. And for that I am most thankful today.

Happy Mother’s Day!