But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. [Philippians 2:7 (NCV)]
There are different kinds of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve but the same Lord to serve. And there are different ways that God works through people but the same God. God works in all of us in everything we do. Something from the Spirit can be seen in each person, for the common good. [1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NCV)]
I emailed a friend to ask about her winter and got one of those bad news/good news answers! Her husband suffered a compression fracture in his back, had a heart attack, and underwent surgery. A blizzard then deposited ten-inches of snow in their driveway! The good news was that my friend was blessed by a young man who volunteered to shovel their snow all winter as his “outreach to the elderly.” While I was struck by the man’s kindness, what really disconcerted me was that my friends and I have apparently moved into what is considered the realm of the elderly!
As much as I hate to admit it, I have chores I can no longer do easily and that list grows a little longer every day. Nevertheless, regardless of our ages, we all are called to serve. Fortunately, servanthood doesn’t require exceptional skill, special talents, or even youth.
Today, I saw a large ad for a service that provides professional readers. For a fee, a person will come and read to your loved one. I’m not begrudging people an opportunity to earn a living but I thought it sad that anyone would have to hire someone to read to children, the visually impaired, retirement home residents, or hospital patients. Is there no one who would do it out of kindness? That’s something even the “elderly” can do! We seniors may no longer be able to shovel snow but we can read to people, provide casseroles to shut-ins, and volunteer in charity resale shops. We may not be able to do the heavy lifting or install sheetrock for Habitat but we can assist in their offices or help raise funds. We may not be able to set up chairs and tables at church but we can offer respite for caregivers, become a reading partner with a child, stock shelves in a food pantry, or drive people to chemo-therapy.
While servanthood has no age constraints, it does have a few other requirements. It’s a ministry rather than an obligation and requires the heart of a servant—a heart that helps out of love rather than duty. Servanthood requires observant eyes—eyes that focus on the needs of others and look for tasks that need to be done. As servants, we must think like stewards rather than owners and understand that our time, talent and wealth are not ours to keep but God’s to use. Finally, if we’re real servants, we’re not afraid to do the work of a servant or to be treated as one. Jesus washed the filthy feet of His disciples and, as his servants, we must be willing to get our hands dirty as well!
We may get too old to shovel the walk but we’re never too old to be servants and do God’s work!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. [Dalai Lama]