Looking Ahead, Serving with Enthusiasm!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Sunday, March 16, 2014

THANK thank you God

Looking Ahead, Serving with Enthusiasm!

What a difference a day makes! Or, a few days, in this case. Today, I started serving in an interim position at a church in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove. My arrival there was providential, to say the least. (I am sure I will say more about it, in the days ahead.) I am looking forward to a wonderful time of service.

One of my new responsibilities at the church is serving as interim music director. (They have a lovely digital piano!) I enjoyed playing the piano for the congregation this morning. I have been doing that on a periodic basis for two retirement centers in Chicago, about once a month. I’m sad to leave that part-time ministry, but happy and excited to move into a new, more varied one. Yes, I did active service today, by leading music, playing the piano, and praying in the church. I tried to be a blessing to the congregation.

Later today, I reconsidered the verse I’ve chosen for March, for this blog. It comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.”  When I consider my new position, I am energized! Excited! May I say—enthusiastic? I think, yes.

I talked with one of my wonderful relatives this afternoon, who rejoiced with me over my new position. She has worked in corporate business for several decades. (She is wise in the ways of business and savvy in interpersonal communication, from a fast-paced, cut-to-the-chase orientation. So useful, and so appreciated!)  She often gives excellent advice. Today was no different. Her thoughtful, to-the-point words struck home with me. She said, “Whenever I go into a new management situation, I always tell myself that I will try to actively like all the members of my management team. Working together is always easier and smoother when we like each other.”

Wow, God. Such an excellent piece of advice! I can see how important this is. If I like, respect and, in a Christian context, pray for people I work with, work will always go more easily and smoothly. I knew this piece of advice said in a little different kind of way. I remember one of my seminary professors telling us to pray for the congregation, and invite the congregation to pray for us, as church leaders. Regular prayer helps me like them, and even love them. Which is what God commands, by the way. (And it’s really difficult to actively dislike someone I’m regularly praying for, besides.)

This is going to be a busy week. I have a conference to attend for several days (for my certificate for Alcohol and Drug Counseling, or CADC). And since it’s Lent, I need to prepare a brief service for Wednesday night, on top of everything else. Busy, busy! But God, I know You will be right there next to me. Thanks for this new adventure! And thanks for the assurance that “whate’er I do, where’er I be, Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Try to Serve—With Enthusiasm?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, March 12, 2014

BK always be kind

In Which I Try to Serve—With Enthusiasm?

Another day, another act of service. That’s what I have been praying for God to send me, each day. Day by day. One day at a time.

Today I considered the verse I’ve chosen for March, which comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.” One problem—what if I don’t feel like being enthusiastic? Case in point: there was wintry weather again here in Chicago today. A continuation of the winter that just won’t quit. Both the yucky weather and yet another dismal, depressing day are wearing on me and my attitude. In fact, generally wearing on me, period.

But that yucky, dismal way isn’t the way I need to act. At least, not if I want to be faithful to the way I’ve been praying this past number of weeks.

All right, God. I give. I get the sense that You want me to pull out a commentary and check out Ephesians 6. Lo and behold, this particular passage concerns the different household relationships: men, women, children, and . . . slaves. (I realize this highly-charged word brings up all kinds of things, many different thoughts in people’s minds! I know. Hopefully, I will talk about this aspect in a later post this month. Remind me.)  Several other translations translate that word “doulos” as servant. Okay, I know I am the servant of Christ. I got that. I know I am supposed to do the will of God from my heart.  Grrr! Being a good and faithful servant is particularly hard sometimes! I just wanted to let You know that.

After thinking these kinds of thoughts, I got my head oriented towards service. I did have an easier time looking for opportunities to serve, then.  Among other things, I did an errand for a friend who doesn’t get out too much. I am occasionally asked to pick up things at the store, or go and fetch something else. Never any thing huge, but I’m happy to do it. (I would even be content if I did have to fetch and carry something big!) My friend was really pleased with what I was able to find, and I felt satisfied that my friend was overjoyed.

So, after the fact, I am glad that I went out of my way to provide a service to my friend today. Acts of intentional service almost sound like they are something clinical and antiseptic, or perhaps some do-gooder act. But, no! That’s not the way God has been working in my life—at least, not that I can tell. I have another friend (a kind pastor) who keeps reminding his congregation to look for where God is already working and get on board there. I think I have my marching orders. Enough to keep me busy for quite a while, anyhow.

I thank God for kind people like my friend. Or rather, both my kind friends! God bless them richly.

@chaplaineliza

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How to Serve . . . with Enthusiasm?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, March 6, 2014

BK no act of kindness is wasted

How to Serve . . . with Enthusiasm?

As I’ve said before, it’s a wonderful opportunity to find acts of service to others! Many spiritual and religious traditions raise up the practice of service, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the Recovery program. Following the lead of these time-tested spiritual paths, I’m trying to find an intentional service opportunity every day, and then blog about these acts of service on a daily basis.

Intellectually, I agree with the verse I’ve chosen for March, which comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.” But operationally, HOW do I do that? What does it look like?

My daughter and son have caught me out. They have noticed times when I try too hard, and put on my pleasant people-face and my smooth public-voice. Deep down, I don’t want to be “fake-y” or to put on a false face when I perform acts of service. However—I  know I sometimes do try to fake it. “Fake it until you make it,” as one common Recovery saying goes. I think this Recovery saying had situations similar to this in mind. People working on recovery from an addiction are advised to get involved in regular service to others, but service is sometimes the last thing recovering addicts or alcoholics want to do. Thus, “fake it until you make it.”

All the same, I am purposely trying not to try too hard. Humility in service is a challenging thing to pray for (and even more challenging to actually attain). I thought long and hard before I started this year-long adventure of service, because I do not want anyone to think I am trying to earn brownie points with God. Instead, these acts of service are a grateful, loving response to God. According to Ephesians 2:10, God has set out acts of service for me to do, already. After some talking (with several spiritual elders) and some hesitant praying, I finally figured I had better get to work and make myself available for some loving service opportunities.

So, what was my act of service today, you may ask? Several! I did a few needful things around the house for a friend of mine today. Plus, I was kind and I smiled at two clerks at a store. And, I sincerely listened while another friend told me of continuing difficulty with the landlord. None of these service opportunities were huge, but I think they were appreciated.

Whatever way you slice it, I think those acts of service all count. They were all loving, intentional acts, and I even was pleased to get a response to each one. I don’t always get a response! But this time, I did. And it felt good to me to help others. To be kind, and to serve others. The way that God (as I understand God) intends for me to do. Thanks for this task—I mean, this opportunity to serve others.

@chaplaineliza

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