by Linda Skinner
One of the great joys of my life is serving others. When I was growing up, my mom modeled serving others. She taught Sunday School, sung in the choir at church, cooked meals for people who were sick or going through a tough time. I never once heard her complain about the time she was needed to help others. When she was at Washington Cathedral, she was a greeter, TLC Leader, sang in the choir, helped with the youth, helped with Singles, baked and cooked. I remember when Pastor Tim had to ask me to not let mom know when something was needed because to her it was her privilege to donate or help out.
As a teenager, my youth leader was adamant that if God gave you a gift, it was your duty, privilege and joy to use that gift to help others. She made sure that each one of us found our niche for serving and in her words “if you are in your niche, it will be a joy.” I think I was about 13 years old when I did my first outreach to a nursing home. I remember to this day my visits with Eleanor. She was in her 80’s and when you are 13 that seems ancient. She hadn’t seen her daughter for 5 years and she felt very alone and abandoned. At the time, I couldn’t imagine why her daughter stayed away. But Eleanor had serious dementia and she didn’t remember me from time to time, when I visited. I’m thinking her daughter was finding it hard to accept her mother’s illness. (We have so much better understanding of dementia now, but this was in 1961.)
When I visited Eleanor, she would light up. I read to her. Sometimes, Bible verses, sometimes the books she had by her bed, sometimes from magazines (her favorites were Time, Life and Reader’s Digest). We’d laugh together and she’d ask me about my dreams. But each time I showed up, we’d kind of cover the same territory as the previous time because she didn’t remember me. My youth leader asked how it was going, and I told her I was feeling like I wasn’t doing much because we went over the same things every time. She wasn’t making any progress. That was the day that I learned that service is not about getting something done, it is about connecting with people and showing them the love of Jesus.
That lesson has helped me so much in my ministry life. Sometimes when I’m serving, I get caught up in accomplishing the task – getting the job done. Then God brings Eleanor into my memory and I remember that the task is only the means to an even greater end. “Serving is connecting with people and showing them the love of Jesus.” Serving is putting your faith in a loving, caring God into action.
This weekend Pastor Michael continues in our series Move It exploring with us James 2. Join us for his message “Faith – Dead or Alive!” Learn the joys of putting your faith into action.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith
but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? James 2:14