Service- Discipline 2014-19
Where the cross is a sign of submission to God, the towel is the sign of service. What towel?
When Jesus gathered his disciples for the Last Supper they were having trouble deciding who was the greatest. This was no new issue for them. “And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest” (Luke 9: 46). Jesus then showed them exactly what humility was all about. He took a towel and basin and redefined what greatness was to them.
Having lived out servant hood before them, he called them to the way of service: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (John 13: 14-15). WOW!!
Just what is service in relation to the Disciplines, in YOUR mind?
Service makes us able to do so much. We throw away the world’s games of promotion, authority; pecking orders and we no longer stay in the chicken pen to find out who is the greatest or the least among us. This way is the way of human society today and with service we get rid of those feelings. Jesus Christ redefined leadership and rearranged the lines of authority for all of us. He did not rearrange the “pecking order” He abolished it. Authority became, not of manipulation and control, but instead an authority of function, not of status in life.
“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant… even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20: 25– 28). Therefore the spiritual authority of Jesus is an authority not found in a position or a title, but in a towel.
Self-righteous (SR) Service Versus True Service, (T) what are the differences?
If we want to practice true service to the Lord, we have to know the difference between “true” (T) and “self-righteous (SR) service.”
SR service involves human effort with much energy towards calculating and scheming how to render the service. It looks into how to “help those people” via charts, graphs and surveys, for instance. T service comes from having a relationship with the divine Other deep inside oneself. It, the T service is done via the urgings from the divine with whispered promptings.
SR has to do with the “big deal”, especially when the service is gigantic with great scoreboards to keep the score. T cares less and finds it hard to distinguish between the biggees and the small service done. Actually, the T servant sees the smaller service more important at times and welcomes ALL opportunities to serve.
SR service desires external rewards and wants to be recognized, and appreciated. Fanfare and accolades are desired, with proper religious modesty, of course. T service does not seek the lights and horns of success, but does not fear them either. The divine’s nod of approval is enough for the T service.
SR service wants results and desires to see if the person served will do so to them also. If the results are below par, it becomes bitter. T service will serve enemies as well as friends has no need for calculated results.
SR service is picky and serves where there is an advantage to them, even serving the lowly and needy to show a humble image. T service does not distinguish in its ministry and feels it should be the “servant of all” (Mark 9;35).
SR service serves when it feels like doing so or perhaps when, “moved by the Spirit”, but is subject to the whims and moods of feeling. T service ministers very simply because there is a need, period…. T service disciplines the feelings rather than allowing the feelings to control the service.
SR service does its job only while the specific acts of service are being performed and is fleeting. After doing the service it can rest easy. T service is not just for the moment, but is a life style of doing and does so to meet human needs automatically.
SR service is insensitive and demands the opportunity to help even when it could be destructive to the one being served. T service is compassionate and can listen plus can be patient before acting.
Lastly, SR service centers in on the glorification of the individual once all the religious trappings are removed. It can become one of the most subtle and destructive forms of manipulation and can fracture community. T service builds community and does its job quietly caring about the needs of others and instead, builds, heals, binds and draws.
What is the KEY WORD that describes True Service after reading the above????
You can NEVER gain the one virtue that is shown above by seeking it and the more we pursue it the farther it goes away from us. To think we have it is to be assured we do not have it. One of the best ways to get it and the most conductive way to obtaining it is through the Spiritual Discipline of Service. That word is, of course, humility. Humility towards others, via service.
When we set out on a consciously chosen course of action that accents the good of others and is, for the most part, a hidden work, a deep change occurs in our spirits. Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness.
Every day should be viewed as a day of humility. How do we do this? By learning to serve others, it is the Discipline of service that brings humility into life. This is again, easier said than done, but once more, we should “strive to do so”.
What happens if we do serve with humility towards others with the Discipline of Service?
A number of things can occur. We can have a sense of presence of being aware of a fresh zest and exhilaration of living. Increased confidence with our activities and hopefully a unhurried peace will envelope us. We will view people with compassion where once we envied them, because their pain of existence will be in view. Others we once looked at as not being there will become individuals. The guy at the Speedway gas station, is no longer the mindless soul working for us, but instead a person with identification of worth.
The best thing is we will have a deeper love, a deeper joy of our God, whom we serve as obedient children. We will pray with praise and adoration and love and feel that our new self is directed by a higher being.
What are some of the pitfalls if we dedicate ourselves to service?
People will take advantage of us!!!! NOT SO, if we choose between serving and being a servant!! IF we choose to serve we are still in charge. We decide as to whom we will serve and when we will do so. Sounds like the right way, correct? BUT, if we choose to be a servant, we give up the right to be in charge. If we choose to voluntarily give up this advantage, we CANNOT be manipulated. We surrender the right to decide who and when we serve and become available and vulnerable. Let me explain.
A slave looks at his life as a slave and does not see himself with freedoms of those that are not slaves. When slavery is not of your choice, it is cruel, but when freely chosen it is a great joy. The Apostle Paul looked at himself as a slave to Christ, out of love. We can translate the word slave to that of servant, but know this, Paul meant he “freely gave up his rights” to Christ, not as a beholden slave, but as a free slave.
So, we can look at ourselves as having a fear of having people taking advantage of us and that is justified. AND, it may happen!! The difference is nobody can hurt someone who has freely chosen to be stepped on; nobody! Through the love of Christ, we CAN endure sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships; if we choose to do so. That is NOT easy!!
Service is not a list of things that we do, though in it we discover things to do. It is not a code of ethics, but a way of living. To do specific acts of service is not the same thing as living in the Discipline of service. It is one thing to act like a servant; it is quite another to be a servant. As stated at the very beginning, in describing all the Disciplines, it is possible to master the mechanics of service without experiencing the Discipline of Service.
The risen Christ beckons us to the ministry of the towel. Such a ministry, flowing out of the inner recesses of the heart, is life and joy and peace. Perhaps you would like to begin by experimenting with a prayer that several of us use. Begin the day by praying, “Lord Jesus, as it would please you bring me someone today whom I can serve.”
Once more I suggest you get the book by Richard Foster, “Celebration of Disciplines” available from Amazon or most other book stores, besides the local library. It has details that are more involved and the book being on hand will be a great guide on the Disciplines. There is also a study guide for this book.