Tag Archives: servanthood

Faith Trumps Daydreams

Story of the Day for Tuesday July 3, 2012

 

Faith Trumps Daydreams

                   We remember the words of our Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

                                                    Acts 20:35

 

 What would it take for you to be happy and fulfilled?

If I were a betting man, I would guess it has something to do with money. (And the very fact I refer to betting suggests my focus is on gaining money.)

 

In 1913, Marion was born into a dream. She was raised in a Hungarian castle — attended by maids, butlers, governesses, and chauffeurs. When her family traveled, they brought their own linen, because using the bed sheets of the common people was below their dignity.

In Vienna, Marion met the movie director Otto Preminger, and soon they were married. They moved to southern California where Preminger’s career took off, and the couple basked in fame. Marion ascended the social ranks as a prominent Hollywood glamour queen with the wealth to feed her obsession for high living and the latest fashions.

When I imagine happiness, it harmonizes with Marion Preminger’s life: butlers serving hors d’oeuvres in my castle, or movie stars bidding for my attention.

 

But Marion wasn’t happy. She began to drown under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and the numerous affairs between her and her husband shattered their marriage. Depressed and desperate, Marion became suicidal.

Preminger fled from her broken life and returned to Europe — hoping to rise as a Parisian socialite.

 

As a little girl, she had heard stories of Albert Schweitzer, a world-renowned theologian and organist who retreated to Africa to serve the poor.  One day, she learned that Schweitzer was making a return visit to Europe and would be in Gunsbach in northeastern France. Preminger sought out Dr. Schweitzer and found him playing the organ in the village church.

After dinner at his house, Schweitzer invited Marion to come to Lambarene and join in the work at the African hospital.

The girl who had been raised in a castle, who had been pampered and spoiled, now found herself bathing babies, changing bedpans, and feeding lepers. In her autobiography, All I Want Is Everything, Marion says of Schweitzer: “I thank God he allowed me to become a helper, and in helping, I found everything.”

 

My daydreams and my faith don’t always get along. I blissfully dream of how happy I’d be with a bigger house and season tickets to Packers games. I never fantasize about finding fulfillment by changing bedpans.

But faith trumps daydreams. Life isn’t about how much we get but how much we give. Jesus had it right: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

“Not a Single One!”

Story of the Day for Tuesday February 14, 2012

“Not a Single One!”

                    Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant. 

                                                                                      Matthew 20:26

 Who was the greatest quarterback who ever lived? Who was the greatest singer of all time?  When questions like this are raised, the debate often becomes spirited.

Yet, when we disagree with others about greatness, we’re only splitting hairs — we really don’t disagree at all. We all believes that greatness is defined as superiority over others; when we disagree, we’re only niggling over the fine points.

That is why Jesus’ view of greatness packs such a jolt. In God’s eyes, greatness is not defined by how many others we’re superior to, but by how many others we serve. And the Son of God showed the way by becoming the servant to everyone who ever lived.

 

Dale Galloway, in his book Rebuild Your Life, tells the story of a little boy named Chad.

One day in late January Chad came home from school and told his mom he wanted to make a valentine for everyone in his class.

Her heart sank. Chad’s mom watched as the kids walked home from school. They laughed and clumped together as they made their way home from school.  But Chad was never included. He always walked alone behind the others. She knew how Valentine’s Day worked, and that Chad would probably not get many valentines from his classmates.

 

But, she sighed, if her son wanted to make valentines then she would do what she could to help. She bought paper, glue, and other materials. For three weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made 35 valentines.

 

On the morning of Valentine’s Day, Chad could hardly contain his excitement as he bolted out the door. His mom knew how crushed he would be to find that he had given far more valentines than he received, so she baked his favorite cookies to try to cheer him up when he got home.

By mid-afternoon she had cookies and milk waiting for him on the table. When she heard the sound of children she looked out the window. As usual, the kids were walking and babbling in little groups while Chad walked by himself.

Chad walked a little faster than usual, and his mom noticed he carried no bag of valentines like the one he carried out of the house. Knowing that he might well burst into sobbing as soon as he walked in the door, she worked to choke back her own tears.

As soon as he walked through the door she greeted him and said, “I have some warm cookies and milk for you,” but Chad didn’t seem to hear.

“Not a one . . . not a one.”

Her heart sank.

But Chad looked up to his mom and his face glowed, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”

                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


Magnets on the Fridge Door

Story of the Day for Wednesday February 1, 2012

Magnets on the Fridge Door

                        And in his teaching Jesus said, “Watch out for the Bible scholars who like to walk around in long robes and be greeted in the marketplace and have the special seat in the synagogue and the place of honor at feasts.” 

                                           Mark 12:38-39

In the 1950s, the vocation of pastor ranked 3rd in status in the U.S.   Fifty years later, pastors ranked 187th in status.  The vocation of pastor is not nearly as dignified or respected as it once was.

All this is refreshing news for pastors.  The word “minister” in the Bible does not mean a “clergyman,” but a “servant” – the one who is beneath others in order to serve.  Just as Jesus assumed the role of a lowly servant, and demonstrated it as he knelt to wash his disciple’s feet, so he calls those in the church to forsake status in order to serve people.

It is a little more complex than I’m making it out to be, because we are to show a kind of respect to leaders in the church.  But Jesus is stern in his warnings that we must not use religion as a means of gaining status.

 

The Bible scholars of Jesus day loved the status they enjoyed.  They wore long stoles and robes to indicate their high rank in society.  When they walked down the street on market day, the people would stand in honor as they passed by.

But, a concern for status invariably involves a comparison – a competition – to be higher in respect than others.  That’s what makes it ugly.  Status is rooted in pride.

 

The focus on status is destructive in the church.  It destroys relationship.  Intuitively, we know that relationships are of higher value than status.

You prove it by your refrigerator door.  The photos of people on your fridge: are they of the most famous and influential people in the world?  Or are they photos of family and friends?  How about the artwork?  Do you have artwork of the great masters, or drawings by your kids or grandkids?

 

Jesus turns the status charts upside down.  He says that, if anyone wants to be first, let him be last and the “minister” (or, the servant) of all.

In the family of God, it’s not about being “higher” than others.  It’s about having your drawing or photo slapped with a magnet to the fridge door.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Those Who No Longer Have Dirt on Their Feet

Story of the Day for Wednesday November 30, 2011

Those Who No Longer Have Dirt on Their Feet

                     Jesus got up from the dinner, set aside his outer garments, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then, putting water in a basin, he began to wash his disciple’s feet. 

                                                                      John 13:4-5

When the drawing was over, everyone stared at their leader and realized he was guilty. Their commander ordered that all 28 of them would draw lots, but when it was over, everyone knew the drawing had been rigged.

 

Voter fraud and rigged elections will always occur when those lusting power have the opportunity to cheat the system. At elections, residents of Chicago often cynically urge each other to “vote early; vote often.”

 

Ernest Shackleton and his crew, seeking to become the first party to cross the continent of Antarctica, set out in their ship, Endurance, in 1914. The ice floes in the Weddell Sea, however, stranded their ship. For ten months they waited for the ice to release its grip, but instead the ice crushed Endurance’s sides, and she sank.

Alone in a sea of ice, the crew was forced to pull three lifeboats in sub-zero temperatures, in the hope of finding open water.

 

The expedition never planned that everyone would leave the ship. They had brought only eighteen warm, reindeer-fur sleeping bags. They managed to take some of their wool blankets and improvise extra sleeping bags, but they were hardly comfortable in the arctic cold.

Who should get the warm bags? Shackleton announced they would draw lots. As sailors claimed their sleeping bags, however, they began to grow suspicious. After everyone had drawn lots, they realized the enterprise had been rigged. As seaman William Blakewell later recalled, “There was some crooked work in the drawing, as Sir Ernest, Mr. Wild (the Second in Command), Captain Worsley and some of the other officers all drew wool bags. The fine, warm fur bags all went to the men under them.”

First Officer, Lionel Greenstreet said of Shackleton, “His first thought was for the men under him. He didn’t care if he went without a shirt on his back so long as the men he was leading had sufficient clothing.”

 

In Jewish life, servants could be made to perform any task, no matter how servile, except one: no servant could ever be made to wash his master’s feet. That act was considered too degrading – even for a servant.

Yet, during the Passover feast, Jesus kneeled before the men he led and performed the act that not even a servant would consider.

If all you want from those you lead is compliance, then barking orders and issuing ultimatums should do the trick. But if you’re looking for undying loyalty, you’ll find it from those who no longer have dirt on their feet . . . because of you.

I offer no advice on voter fraud.

                                                                   (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)