Learning to Serve


Be captivated by God's opinion of you rather than those around you.

by Clint fisher, upper elementary principal

"In all that he does, he prospers."
Psalm 1:3

What is the aim of my reach? I often feel that I am running and doing, yet I see much that I am not accomplishing. . .

We want our children to learn to serve others, but how do they do this -- for that matter, how do we? This is a question that parents have asked through the generations. There are certainly some things we can do to provide opportunities. We set aside time so the children can experience acts of service. We talk about the needs of others. However, the heart of service is not developed in a single day, but rather over time with constant reminders and focus.

Our country has faced a great deal of hardship in recent days. We see images of people in homes surrounded by water. We see neighborhoods leveled and homes scattered across the land. What do we do with this reality as Christian families and as a Christian school? Last week Kirk Stephens wrote an astonishing article on developing roots called "Storms." The roots we develop are the foundation for serving.

Believing that we are called to serve others, we can easily fall in to the trap of becoming focused solely on meeting their needs. However, we must consider how we serve. If a friend has a need, we meet the need. Yet, we don't stop there. We bring them love and encouragement as well, thus ministering to the whole person. Shouldn't we seek to serve others as we would serve our friends? 

We are so busy. How can we minister to so many needs so deeply? Are we not stretched too thin? I often feel that I am withering in the face of so many needs. I seldom feel like a great tree. What am I to do?

If we look at Psalm 1, we see the picture of a tree planted by streams of water. It yields fruit, and its leaf does not wither. Verse 3 states, "In all that he does, he prospers." We love that last verse, but we do not examine why he prospers. Consider Matthew 13:31-32. Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed. It is not a large seed like the Oak or the great California Redwoods, yet, it was the seed he chose to to use in his comparison. Jesus illustrates that the tiniest of seeds grows into a tree so large that birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. In Daniel 4 God compares the king to a great tree that provides shelter to the beasts of the field and fruit to all around.

How do we root deeply so that we can provide for others as God has called us to do? If our roots are placed in this world, we will be bound to the things of the world. We will wither in the face of the momentous task of serving others. If our roots are found in God, his Word, and the souls of people, then we will find great freedom to serve others. If we abide in Jesus, our roots will receive nourishment to grow strong branches that can provide shelter for others. We will have more to give, will be sensitive to the times He is calling us to serve, and will see others through the eyes of Christ, helping us to sift through things that don't matter in light of eternity and focus on those things that have eternal value. If our children grow roots in Christ, then they will find their hearts less withered as they seek to serve others deeply.

Let's not wait until the end of our lives to discover that this world is empty and that a life planted in this world will lead to withered hearts and fruitlessness for our children. Set your hearts on things above. Be captivated by God's opinion of you rather than those around you. Life is not found in the abundance of one's possessions but only in the presence of God.

Come with me, and let us reach with our roots so that He may reach others through our branches. Prospering occurs below the surface. Thank you, Kirk Stephens, for challenging me to reach with my roots.