I took a little vacation this past weekend. It had been 4 years since I had seen the beach. Unless you don’t like sand, salt water, seaweed, creatures under the water you can’t see, and people wearing swimsuits they should never ever consider wearing – then 4 years is just too long or it may be just right. I tend to visit other churches when I am on vacation just to see what others are doing to reach people. This church happened to be one of the larger churches in the area. I was a little early and so I started putting some volunteers through a gauntlet of questions about the church. “What is the church’s denominational background?” “How do people find community?” “How do you split up your small groups?” … you know, the “typical” questions a guest wants to know. I wandered around the halls for a few minutes and checked out some of their meeting spaces, then made my way into the auditorium.
Sitting down on the edge of a row, I was approached by an older gentleman who I could tell was a bit flustered. Dean immediately looked at me and said, “Can you help?” In his hand he was holding a layout of the auditorium and the names of men, several that had been scribbled through. A quick glance at this piece of paper, paired with his frustration I figured I knew what he needed and so I asked him, “Are you short an usher?” He quickly answered about how one of the men had simply not shown up and two others had called in sick. So I asked him, “How do you need me to serve, by taking up offering or serving the Lord’s Supper?” He looked at me and what seemed like shouting exclaimed, “There are your FIFTEEN service plates ready with the elements!” 15 plates! This stack of service plates (you know those super shiny plates that hold the little cups of juice) was so tall I couldn’t even see over it as I carried it!
It brings joy to your heart to serve people who will never know who you are or that you even exist.
Don’t blame Dean for not knowing that I was a visitor or for not introducing himself (thank goodness he had on a name badge), like I said, it was a huge church and he was beyond frustrated. It wasn’t fair to him that I recognized his situation and knew the words to say. But that is the point – I recognized his situation and knew how to take care of it. He didn’t have to know me and I didn’t need to know him, we were brothers serving Christ and by serving him and serving their church, I was serving Jesus. I harp all the time on making sure you listen to the stories of others and be on the lookout to bless and serve others. The stories don’t have to be long and drawn out to know how you can jump in and serve.
How many times have we simply missed the good works that have been prepared for us?
Please don’t read this and see it as a need for a pat on my back. I have missed opportunity after opportunity to practice what I preach. This time I recognized it and jumped on the opportunity to be used. Jesus listened to those around Him and responded to their needs by serving them. Even if their stories are short or untold, Jesus came to serve. In Luke 8, a woman simply touches the hem of Jesus’s cloak, He responds to her so gently and serves her. Don’t miss that she touched his cloak while Jesus was going to heal Jarius’s daughter. The gospels are full of Jesus listening to stories and responding to people by serving them. Remember, we are created to do good works in and through Jesus and those good works are prepared for us in advance (1 Corinthians 2:10). Keep your eyes open and listen to people, they will tell you how to serve them. How many times have we simply missed the good works that have been prepared for us?
Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2014*Hey, Dean! Thank you for trusting me to serve you and your church. It was an honor.