Choosing to be a Servant | 1 Peter 4:7-11
Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes! 1 Peter 4:7-11 | MSG
A little more from Richard Foster (I’m drawing a lot from him this week. Celebration of Discipline is most definitely a recommended read!): “A natural and understandable hesitancy accompanies any serious discussion of service. The hesitancy is prudent since it is wise to count the cost before plunging headlong into any Discipline. We experience a fear that comes out something like this: ‘If I do that, people will take advantage of me; they will walk all over me.’ Right here we must see the difference between choosing to serve and choosing to be a servant. When we choose to serve, we are still in charge. We decide whom we will serve and when we will serve. And if we are in charge, we will worry a great deal about anyone stepping on us…But when we choose to be a servant, we give up the right to be in charge. There is great freedom in this. If we voluntarily choose to be taken advantage of, then we cannot be manipulated. When we choose to be a servant, we surrender the right to decide who and when we will serve. We become available and vulnerable.” Okay. Let me be honest. This doesn’t just stretch me. This kills me. I want to serve, but I want it to be on my terms and conditions. Period. Control dies hard with us. Yes, we need to be discerning about when we are not really serving others well when we just give them whatever they ask for when they ask for it. Yes, we all need to learn the lessons of “no” and “wait.” Yes, we need to serve responsibly. But how easy it is for our desire to control to hide in these spaces too! What Peter describes in today’s text seems to be an exuberant fusing of such responsible boundary seeking within an overall posture of zestful outpouring of whatever God has placed within us as servants first to him and then to others – because whatever we have is not ours, and because we know he will make more.
Do you agree with the distinction made between choosing to serve and choosing to be a servant? Why or why not? What does “serving responsibly” look like for you?
Lord Jesus, as it would please you, bring me someone today whom I can serve.
One practice. Each day. Hopefully in multiple, unanticipated, creative ways. Don’t just choose to serve today. Be a servant today with all of the inconvenience, all the lack of recognition, all the potential humiliation that entails. Let your pride and agendas go. Be. That. Servant.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.