My church very much has an outward focus when it comes to our role as a church in this community. We are called to go out and be the hands and feet of Christ in very tangible ways on a regular basis. Locally and globally. It’s really quite extraordinary when you think about it. Many churches preach about serving others, but never give you the opportunities to do so. My church is different.
My church not only expects us to serve outside the walls, but provides avenues and encouragement to do so. It’s not a requirement for membership. We are not forced to do anything we don’t want to do. No, what they do well is challenge us to step out of our comfort zones and serve others. We are challenged to serve individually and through small groups. This is where my church is different. Sure, we can each individually find something we are passionate about and make a difference, but how many people actually do that? (Certainly not me, but I’ll talk about that later.) But when serving as part of a group, we accomplish more than any individual could hope. Plus, it’s easier and more fun to work with others than to go it alone, isn’t it?
So as part of our fall Servolution challenge, my Wednesday morning ladies group put on a 2-day charity garage sale to benefit a local middle school. Our efforts to raise money will help start a community garden and buy warm winter clothing for the homeless students there. Our goal was to raise $1,200. Well, God’s goal was much higher. We ended up blowing right past $1,200 in the first 3 hours of the sale and set a new goal for $2,000 which He again, blew right past. After all the money was counted, there was $2,137.25! Glory to God.
As with most things, God had a lesson for me that I’m going to put my shame on the line to share with you. I hate to admit this, but “acts of service” is definitely NOT my love language. Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I’m selfish. Maybe I’m just human. Either way, I have never been one to “do” for others out of my own motivation. It’s something I have to be compelled to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done volunteer work before, I just am careful to make sure it takes the least amount of time and effort necessary from my end. I hate this about me.
That being said, going into this weekend was like a war waging in me. I was not looking forward to it, but I knew it needed to be done. I prayed for God to change my attitude, my heart. Earlier in the week, God reminded me that we are to “take care of the least of these,” and sent me to Matt 25:44-45 which says: “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” This should have been motivation enough, but my selfishness and laziness was still in the way. I just didn’t have the “want to.” But God was working on my heart.
Then we got an email from one of the teachers at the middle school. She writes:
“We have a boy in 5th grade. He wore slippers for the first few weeks of school and his clothes he wore over and over. Come to find out he didn’t own a pair of shoes and the clothes he had were hand me downs and he had no clothes of his own. Some of our teachers as well as our former principal pitched in money to buy the essentials. Last week he won a bike… It was also the same week he and his family were kicked out of where they lived because they could not afford rent. This boy is the oldest of 5 and lives with his mom. Because they had no place to go, they moved back in with dad (who they have a restraining order against due to abuse) so they would have a roof over their head. The dad lives [an hour away] and every day they drive to town so he can attend school and probably for mom to work.
This is a fairly regular story at [our school] and is why we have the hearts that we have for this school. Every teacher there works 10 times harder not because the kids are not prepared but because of the lives our children lead. We get their best and in return give them everything we have.
So from all of us, thank you! Thank you for seeing a need and fulfilling it. Thank you for wanting to be a part of our kids lives and helping them make a difference! Thank you for touching the hearts and minds of not only the students but the staff as well!”
This email is exactly what I needed. You see, it was like a message from God himself reminding me that this whole effort was not about me. It was about the kids and families we would benefit. God answered my prayer and changed my heart. He made the verses come alive. Before, I would have done the garage sale out of obligation, but after, I had a new purpose. I did the work out of love.
I’m thankful to have been a part of something bigger than me. Thankful that our leader had a vision and spearheaded the whole thing. Thankful that we got to serve, not just buy something or donate money which certainly would have been the easy way out. Nope, instead we were immensely blessed and got to see God work to blow the lid off what we thought should be our goal. He clearly had much grander ideas, as usual. I’m humbled by this experience and so thankful for a God who listens and continues to surpass my expectations.
Does this mean I’m cured of my bad attitude and will serve with the right attitude in the future? Maybe. Although I suspect I’ll always struggle in this area. But this is where God can do His thing and I get to see Him change my heart and attitude on a regular basis. Because as long as I’m alive, I’m called to serve others, whether I like it or not. I’m willing. And I’m human. So I’ll let God do the heart surgery and I’ll continue to go where He leads me.
Thank you Brazos Pointe Fellowship for having a vision so great and calling us to be a living church full of servants who can make a difference in this dark world. Thank you for giving us opportunities to serve and showing us ways to do so locally and globally. Thank you for not being about becoming a mega church but for becoming a church with mega impact.