At Chick-Fil-A™, servers are trained to reply: “It’s my pleasure.” It’s different and memorable. You won’t hear the more common, “You’re welcome,” or “Come again.” The owner of the chain emphasizes warm customer service as part of the experience at the restaurant, which is as much a part of their success as the food. At the supermarket chain where I shop I met the opposite attitude yesterday. The young woman at the register was sullen, non-communicative, and rude; and not just to me. She was visibly miserable and I felt badly for her knowing that she was in for a very long day in a job she obviously hated.
Life, lived with a true servant’s spirit, a genuine willingness to put the needs of others before our own, will lead to greater fulfillment. No matter if you are a CEO or a messenger, ‘great’ or ‘small’ if you will forget about demanding respect, you will find joy. Jesus’ disciples became obsessed with the pecking order in their group. He “called them together and said, “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, NLT) “Act like Me,” He said, “and forget about yourself!”
“Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:3-5, NLT)
Genuine service starts with a change in perspective: from ‘me’ to ‘thee.’ A person wrapped up in himself cannot serve well because he is blinded by his own selfishness. He will walk right past the mess on the floor, not because he thinks he is too good to clean it up. He won’t even see it. He will fail to offer encouragement to another, because he will not even notice the pain on her face. A true servant will work to develop awareness of his environment.
Service is also shaped by a realignment of self-perception. The question is not, ’who will love me?’ We who are beloved of God will learn to think this way: ‘Because I am loved, to whom can I show love?’ An insecure person will seldom serve well. He might serve with a motive of gaining affirmation, but that taints what he does. The moment he does not get the appreciation he seeks, he will become retaliatory. Secure in the love of God, Spirit-filled Christians offer their work from a pure heart. They know from Whom the greater reward comes. Petty thoughts about position are erased by the joy of being available to others.
Service is liberating! What a delight we can find knowing that our word, our encouragement, our work makes it possible for someone to enjoy a better day.
Here is a word from the Word. Meditate on it, then go serve somebody.
“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. …
If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff.
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! … If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.” (Luke 6:27-36, The Message)
Make me a servant, humble and meek.
Lord, let me lift up, those who are weak.
And may the prayer of my heart always be;
Make me a servant, make me a servant,
Make me a servant today!
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Jerry D. Scott, Pastor
Faith Discovery Church
Washington, NJ 07882