Serving All People…
As you may know, I lived in Southern California for about seven years and one very important lesson i learned was that if you are going to eat fast food, Chick-Fil-A is the best alternative to a beef hamburger. But what makes them successful is not just the taste of their food; I was reminded of this the other night while ordering. Before I even had a chance to taste their chicken i was greeted with a “how may I serve you today?” and after I received my food they let me know that “it was my pleasure to serve you today.” Now granted, I’m not naive enough to think that some teenager was that excited to see me specifically. But it does not come across as fake either, I have no doubt most people really do enjoy working there; and as a response they enjoy serving customers. Compare that to some other service jobs, how often is the first thing you hear from the cashier “$6.87 please”?
I had a similar experience last night. Sunnyvale Community Services is non-profit organization which helps out local families in need. One of the ways they help is through the “Christmas Store” which is an opportunity for people to pick out food and gifts for their families. Last night a team of about 20 Crosswalkers served the clients in various capacities. My job was to help people carry the gifts and food to their cars and I have to say, I loved every minute of it. Part of it was seeing the joy and relief of the people as they received a cart full of groceries and gifts that their kids would enjoy. One woman was trying not to cry as I loaded up her car and told her “Merry Christmas” and how much God blessed her. It wasn’t just receiving gifts and food that made a difference, people respecting and caring for her made a difference.
I was recently reading a study of John 21:15-19 – that’s the one where Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him and tells him how to respond. There are a lot of fascinating things to note in this passage but don’t get carried away with the details. There is no denying that Jesus is making a simple point to Peter – if you love me, you will take care of those I love. Notice that Jesus takes the time to tell us why we should serve – He is not giving out a military command to serve blindly. He could have told Peter “go take care of my people” and Peter would have done it. But something else is involved in caring for others. Jesus makes it a point that motivation is important: caring for others is a response to our love for Him. When our motivation is a response to God’s love, how can it not be done with a good attitude? If we go into serving others with a bad attitude and do it because we feel “we have to,” is it really a response of love and gratitude? Are we really caring for people if we do it with the wrong attitude? Or just going through the motions?
At the end of our time at Sunnyvale Community Services last night I thanked the man who coordinated for Crosswalk: Leigh Ochinero. He responded humbly by mentioning that he really didn’t do much: made a couple of phone calls, sent a few e-mails. But I don’t see anything in the Bible that tells us that quantity is what matters. What matters is heart and motivation. I can’t know the intentions of someone’s heart, but I think Leigh did everything he did because he cares about people in the community. He wasn’t doing it to get attention or for pats on the back. He can see what a difference it makes helping people in the community. I can tell you that Sunnyvale Community Services is a solid organization which is doing something wonderful to help people in Sunnyvale. They aren’t just blindly giving things away, they know each one of the clients, know their stories and why they need help. They are an organization we can partner with and invest in, knowing they are diligent in caring for the community and i hope that we can get more interest to partner with them more often throughout the year.
Last Friday I was also able to serve at another ministry we do: KidsClub at San Miguel School. Let me give you a little background for this one. Our Life Group had just finished of a study of the book Crazy Love and felt compelled to serve the community. We dedicated an evening to pray together for what we should do. The very next day another local church called me and told me about a ministry they needed help with called KidsClub. KidsClub is an after school Bible study for elementary kids at a local public school. They were in desperate need for volunteers. Since it was something we had just prayed about the night before how could I say no? One of the Life Group members volunteered to take the lead in coordinating our people. Crosswalk now has a team of seven regular volunteers who teach the Bible after hours at a public school. It is not an easy ministry and takes a lot of work, but there is no way I could see any of the volunteers there for any reason other than caring for the kids; joyfully teaching the Bible in a response to God’s love. When I went for the first time last week, Vera Masters and I led a small group of kids. We spoke with the kids about how Typhoon Haiyan affected the Philippines and Vera shared a little about her experience in the Philippines on last summer’s mission trip there. Later, at snack time, one of the kids was supposed to pray for the snack and instead prayed for the people affected by the typhoon. If teachers just “go through the motions” with the class, personal stories like that would not be shared. Caring for each other in response to Jesus’ love is infectious. Our motivations matter. They make a difference.
Remember that as you serve: it is not an obligation, no one is forcing you to do it. It is a response to God’s love.
trying to follow,
PS – if you would like to help serve somehow let me know. In addition to Sunnyvale Community Services and KidsClub, we have many ongoing opportunities to serve the community such as the Refuge. You can also serve the church body by joining a ministry this year: there are several which could use some more volunteers, let me know and I will work on getting you into one where your gifts can best be used.