(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Day 33 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comments section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
In the past few weeks we discovered our ministries by finding our shapes. We are now heading in the right direction. However, now that we know we are suppose to serve we need to ask ourselves another question....how do real servants act? We want to be the best servants we can be. It's tough nowadays when everyone wants to be the leader. Rick Warren gives us the six characteristics of a real servant of God. They are: make yourself available to serve, pay attention to need, do your best with what you have, do every task with equal dedication, be faithful to your ministry and maintain a low profile. If you haven't done so, I highly recommend that you read about each of these characteristics in more detail. Rick Warren really goes into detail about each of these characteristics and how you can develop them.
For now, I'd like to touch on a question that Rick Warren posed at the end of Day 33.
Which of these six characteristics of real servants offers the greatest challenge to me?
I'd like to share with you my answer to this question. For me the answer was "Real servants pay attention to needs." I really try to pay attention to others who are hurting. However, it's difficult when you are hurting as well. Sure I trust God with autism. Although, it is a daily thing I have to give to God. As selfish as this may sound, there are days where I don't feel like serving. I can't see past my own needs to recognize others. I feel like saying "my day is hard enough." The selfish nature in us will try to put our needs in front of others which prevents us from serving others. I almost missed out on a wonderful opportunity for me to not only serve but for someone to serve me as well. I was having a very hard week. Autism was at it's peak in my home and I was so overwhelmed. A close friend who has a child with autism called me seeking guidance and prayer. I almost didn't answer my phone because I didn't feel I could do any one any good. (Isn't it amazing how God will show up and show how good He truly is?) I am so thankful that God encouraged me to pick up my phone. My friend and I were able to serve each other and give each other the strength we were both we desperately seeking. How sad it would have been if either of us couldn't have seen passed our own needs to reach other to each other. Even more challenging to me is being able to reach out to others who don't have a child with autism. God needs me to serve outside of autism as well. However, I get so focused on autism that sometimes it's hard for me to even see outside our world. Really stop and think about people around you and what they're going through. The friend at work who is making the difficult decision to move her mother into a nursing home. The family member whose husband is unfaithful. The close friend who just went through a divorce. We may not truly "get" what they are going through because we haven't experienced it but God still wants us to serve these people. He wants us to see beyond our struggles and reach out to others. After reading this chapter, I thought about a very close friend of mine that we'll call "Mary" who I believe has the biggest heart to serve. Last year, "Mary's" oldest child passed away from a rare genetic disorder. He was nine years old. A beautiful little boy who had a remarkable spirit. During this most difficult time in her life, "Mary" served me in more ways than she knows. In fact, I really don't think she even realizes how much she naturally serves others. It wasn't because I was sitting back thinking "how she has it worse than I do." It was all in the way she handled the most devastating thing that could happen to a mother....with compassion, understanding and faithfulness. She showed me how strong her faith was and how important it is to trust in God, no matter what. "Mary" taught me to totally give my situation to God and fully trust in Him. Now, she didn't do this in a big sit down talk over coffee. It was in her actions. I love to be around "Mary". Her faithfulness in God and how we should all feel blessed with what God has handed us is so catching. She is using her life and her child's life to serve others. Not only other parents who have lost a child, but to other people who are hurting. That's the key. We need to not only serve families that have children with autism, but we also need to reach out to others. We need to show others our faithfulness in God. We need to scream from our rooftops how much we trust in God even when our child seems to be regressing again. We need to show them all of the blessings that we are finding in the midst of our storm so that they too may see theirs. This is serving God. Think of how many people will hear your testimony and come to God as well.
Here's the thing, serving doesn't always have to look like bringing someone a meal, cleaning their house or taking them to dinner...don't get me wrong these are great ways to serve and I do think it's important to help others. However, we have to open our eyes, look past our own problems and reach out to others. We can use our testimonies to help others testimonies come to life. In my opinion, our best way of serving God and others is all in how we live our lives. It's all about how we handle what we've been given. We can do it to glorify God and reach out to others. Imagine our world if we all did this. If we all leaned on each other, served each other. Now that my friend, is a faithful servant. Wouldn't you love to get to Heaven and hear Jesus say to you "Well done my faithful servant, well done."
Bible Verses from Day 33
Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. -Mark 10:43
You can tell what they are by what they do. -Matthew 7:16
"If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded." -Matthew 10:42