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August 27, 2009

Jesus-Style Service

When serving isn’t the feel good, extra meaningful kind

“I am not your servant!”

These are the words I half-grunted, half-spoke to one of my kids yesterday as I got on my hands and knees to pick up the crumpled pieces of dry pasta he’d decided to deposit on the floor rather than the garbage can.

Then a thought struck me: I sure hope Jesus didn’t hear me say that!

Unfortunately, this attitude toward servanthood extends well beyond my feelings about cleaning the floor. Most of the time, serving others just rubs me the wrong way. Sure, if it’s some sort of extra meaningful service project (where you can practically hear the soundtrack of inspirational feel-good music in your mind as you work and you experience a rush of good feelings about how great you are for doing this), then it’s not too difficult.

But what about real service? The kind Jesus talked about? The kind that involves getting no credit? The kind that may not be accompanied by any feelings other than a waging battle against your own selfish impulses? The kind that may even involve serious germs or really bad smells?

Serving others Jesus-style is just not easy. And even when we feel excited about serving others in our community, it can be difficult to figure out how. The problems in our world—like poverty, illiteracy, school violence, racial strife, crisis pregnancy—can loom very large and seem impossible for the average Christian woman to address. And add to that recipe the normal demands of life for a busy woman: work, volunteering, parenting, homemaking, church activities, and don’t forget coffee with friends . . . how will service ever fit in?

So how about you? Who’s been a compelling example of service in your life? How has she inspired you to serve others Jesus-style?


For about five years, I had a mentor, Sharon, with whom I met almost weekly. Her willingness to open her life up to me, to hold nothing back influenced me greatly. Her example has strengthened me as I run headlong towards our Savior. The last five years having moved across the country, I have craved her mentorship and worked to replicate that kind of authentic living in my own life.

Yes, a good friend of mine many years ago inspired me to pray for others, and as the Lord leads me, to serve others depending on their needs.

My question is that I have a neighbour who for the last year I have been helping with groceries, etc. however one phone call from her is just too overwhelming. I began to get sick, and noticed that it possibly could have something to do with the stress involved. Plus, in order to help her, I had to forget about my own family, which doesn't seem right to me. I finally told her I just want to be neighbors again. She respected this until this week. I had simply waved to her, as I do with any neighbor I know, but it turned into a long conversation. Yes, she has many prolems. Health and financial, but she is overwhelming me with this, and she lives right across the street from me. She also told me once again that she is out of food. What am I to do as a Christian? If I help her out, and we can't afford to do this for a few day, then she will never let me go. She is Catholic and wants my prayers, which I am happy to pray for her and her familys health concerns, but she has no interest in being born again. She doesn't listen to me or anyone else so what can I do? Appreciate your input.


This seems like a very complicated situation you are in but nothing is impossible with God infact the more complicated, the better it is.

Please pray and ask God what He wants you to do about this situation with your neighbour and listen to that still small voice. Then do exactly what God asks you to do.
As for she not wanting to be born again, just let it go and continue interceeding for her and she will give her live to Jesus at the right time. Trust me all these prayers are not for nothing. God will glorify Himself in their lives in His own timing.

Karen - it sounds as if your neighbor does have many problems. She sounds like she is an older woman who lives alone...so I'm answering based on that assumption.

First - she sounds as if she has money problems. If her need for money is genuine, then offer to help her call the appropriate food stamp and other aid programs. Look into various food bank and food pantries. Contact her Parish and ask to talk with the head of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. They may have a variety of relief services available to her. She may be too overwhelmed to take the necessary first steps.

Second - she is lonely. You don't have to fill all her needs, but does your church have a Senior citizen's group? Does the Catholic church? Help her make the connections. See if there are any "friendly visitor" services in your community. Contact them if there are any. Consider starting one at your church if there aren't any. A phone call once a day is huge to older people who live along.

Finally - don't get hung up on the "religion speak" Of course she doesn't want to be "born again," she has no context for what those words mean and "churchy talk" alienates and harms the cause of Christ. Read how He talked to people ... no 1st Century Priestly Mumbo-Jumbo - just the straight truth of God's love. And remember, never ONCE did he require a person to change before they believed...you don't have to be "good enough" to be saved; here's no "pre-test" before Salvation. The grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit empowers and compels the change in personality followed the profession of faith. And, finally, Catholics can be and often are saved. There a many Baptists and Lutherans and EFCA pew-sitters who LOOK Christian but have not bent their knee and acknowledged they are sinners and Christ is their Savior...and plenty more who have not made him the LORD of their life. There are plenty of Catholics who have done both!!!

Marci has made some great points. Karen, do pray for God's direction and strength so that you are not working from your own human position, but with the power of the Holy Spirit. Whether she's "born again" really isn't relevant -- after all, if this neighbour were a Hindu or complete atheist, you would probably take this as a mission opportunity.

The problem is that she wants all of my attention. She doesn't understand why I need to sometimes be home for my teenage son, or why I would want to spend time with my husband, instead of her. I wouldn't mind spending time with her once in a while, if it didn't mean that my life would revolve only around her. Yes she is having a pity party for herself, not that she doesn't have problems, but she is not the only one. She thinks her problems outweigh everyone elses. When her sister in law passed away, I went to the funeral, etc. but she told me later that yes her brother was sad because he missed his wife, but at least he was married. That did it for me. How unkind. Again, only her problems and situations are relevant. That is what bothers me. That and that she wants ALL my time. She doesn''t understand why I attend a Bible Study, when I have my husband. I have tried to explain, but she doesn't want to listen. All advice is appreciated.

Lets get back to talking about Jesus Style Service.

The Christian life is never easy. Jesus made this clear. Nothing worth having is easy. Having said that, Jesus doesn't mean for us to be floor mats. Sometimes we have to set boundaries. It's OK to say, "I only have 10 minutes because I have to make dinner for my family." Speak with love. Leave the rest to the Lord.

Wow. This text entry box is small. Is it that way for everyone?

In a family situation, if you are going to be a servant (the Jesus kind) you also need to be training the rest of the family to be one, too, or human nature will take over and you'll be serving and the rest of the family will be sitting and enjoying your service. A perfect example of this just came to visit us this last summer.

For about five years, I had a mentor, Sharon, with whom I met almost weekly. Her willingness to open her life up to me, to hold nothing back influenced me greatly.

I agree with all the comments and just want to add that Karen tell your neighbor the truth. Even if you have to tell her two or three times. I had a neighbor like that who just tired me out because no one else would allow her to tire them out. I loved her with the love of Christ. She wanted to complain all the time about her husband. I tried asking her what she saw in him to make her marry him and stay with him and after a sentence or two she went back to saying bad things about him. I made some ground rules for our relationship and one was that she could only say good things about her husband to me. I did not know him but she was coloring my picture of him and that was not right to him, her or me. She soon got the message and would not say anything about her husband to me. Continue to pray for her but also try to pray with her when she pose a complaint - not to scare her away (as it could do some people who are not really serious about being helped) but to let her know that you love her enough to submit her case to God and to show her how easy it is to do. I will continue to pray for you and this situation as well.

Mrs. Lauretta
Marriage Expert and
Sinner Saved By Grace

Thank you so much for sharing your insights! It made me think too. Sometimes we forget that Jesus had been so selfless as to save us all. He was humble. And was a Servant to God. :)

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