Written by Roxanne Rodgers
Read Mark 10 and I Peter 4
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve. Mark 10:44
If anyone serves he should do it with the strength God gives so that in all things God may be praised. 1 Pet. 4:11
We often hear the phrases, “24/7.” When I hear it used, it is typically an exaggeration of the amount of time people say they put into an important job. But when I think of serving, there are people who come to mind that the phrase “24/7” is no exaggeration. My mother cared for my father for 8 years after a stroke had left him a semi invalid and unable to speak. She faithfully cared for all his needs and it was a seven day a week duty that required her to get up several times a night. My Father- in- law is caring for my mother- in- law the same way, around the clock. We have several friends who are caregivers to their aged parents. It truly is 24/7 care.
Together my parents had a very active ministry in their local church. After dad’s stroke, that changed abruptly. My mom was very involved in leading bible studies and one-on one discipleship. It was very difficult to have these ministries replaced by behind the scene serving, though she did it faithfully. I recall her telling me one day that she struggled with the feeling that the Lord had put her on the “shelf.” For my dad, It had to be a huge struggle not only to be “put on the shelf” but to being reduced to complete dependence on others for almost all of his needs, and unable to speak a word! I will never forget my mom telling me years into her role as his caregiver, “I have come to realize this whole thing is about me, It is not about your dad’s stroke. It is about the Lord still teaching me to serve Him in the way He deems best to make me more like Himself.”
I think almost daily of a friend who with her husband had been traveling the country through a speaking ministry. She is one of the most gifted women I know. She has faithfully used her gift in teaching and encouraging women and children. For the past several years she has chosen her God given ministry to now be the care of her aged mother. I have not talked to her about it, but I am willing to guess she has struggled at times with being “put on the shelf.”
Serving others is not a glamorous job to have. It may not always involve being a caregiver in the medical sense, but isn’t serving always caring for others? Service may mean bringing a meal, cleaning toilets or visiting a shut in. If we are willing, the Lord will show us how He wants us to serve others. This is a ministry which often goes unnoticed. Or does it? Who are we serving and what is our motive? If we are trying to serve in our own strength, we soon lose our joy and desire to do it. But as Peter admonishes us, “If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God gives so that in all things God may be praised.” We ought daily to pray, “Lord give me the grace, or ease the burden. He is faithful to do one or the other.
My dad has been with the Lord for four years now. I find it so encouraging when I talk to my mom on the phone. Even though she is 83, she is not sitting back waiting to be served. Quite to the contrary: she is back to discipling someone in her home; preparing a meal for a house full of company, or writing a letter of encouragement to a young gal in jail.
Whatever spiritual gift we have been given, let us all be like the Son of Man who “did not come to be served but to serve.” Mark 10:44
“But by love, let us serve one another.” Galatians 5:13