Most people wish to serve God -- but in an advisory capacity only.
Quoted in Sunday Express, London.
Self-righteous service comes through human effort. True service comes from a
relationship with the divine Other deep inside.
Self-righteous service is impressed with the "big deal." True service finds it
almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service.
Self-righteous service requires external rewards. True service rests contented in
Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results. True service is free of the need
to calculate results.
Self-righteous service picks and chooses whom to serve. True service is indiscriminate in
Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims. True service ministers simply and
faithfully because there is a need.
Self-righteous service is temporary. True service is a life-style.
Self-righteous service is without sensitivity. It insists on meeting the need even when to
do so would be destructive. True service can withhold the service as freely as perform it.
Self-righteous service fractures community. True service, on the other hand, builds
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, "The
Discipline of Service."
During World War II, England needed to increase its production of coal. Winston
Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his
presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which he knew would be held
in Picadilly Circus after the war.
First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then
would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel
in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky.
Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in
miner's caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, 'And where were you during the critical
days of our struggle?' And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, 'We were deep
in the earth with our faces to the coal.'"
Not all the jobs in a church are prominent and glamorous. But it is often the people
with their "facs to the coal" who help the church accomplish its mission.
Don McCullough, Waking from the American Dream.
Unamuno, the Spanish philosopher, tells about the Roman aqueduct at Segovia, in his
native Spain. It was built in 109 A.D. For eighteen hundred years, it carried cool water
from the mountains to the hot and thirsty city. Nearly sixty generations of men drank from
its flow. Then came another generation, a recent one, who said, "This aqueduct is so
great a marvel that it ought to be preserved for our children, as a museum piece. We shall
relieve it of its centuries-long labor."
They did; they laid modern iron pipes. They gave the ancient bricks and mortar a
reverent rest. And the aqueduct began to fall apart. The sun beating on the dry mortar
caused it to crumble. The bricks and stone sagged and threatened to fall. What ages of
service could not destroy idleness disintegrated.
Resource, Sept./ Oct., 1992, p. 4.
In his book 70 X 7, The Freedom of Forgiveness, David Ugsberger tells of General
William Booth, the founder of the salvation Army, who had lost his eyesight. His son
Bramwell was given the difficult task of telling his father there would be no recovery.
"Do you mean that I am blind?" the General asked. "I hear we must
contemplate that," his son replied. The father continued,"I shall never see your
face again?" "No, probably not in this world." "Bramwell," said
General Booth, "I have done what I could for God and for His people with my eyes. Now
I shall do what I can for God without my eyes."
David Ugsberger, 70 X 7, The Freedom of Forgiveness.
The great violinist, Nicolo Paganini, willed his marvelous violin to Genoa -- the city
of his birth -- but only on condition that the instrument never be played upon. It was an
unfortunate condition, for it is a peculiarity of wood that as long as it is used and
handled, it shows little wear. As soon as it is discarded, it begins to decay. The
exquisite, mellow-toned violin has become worm-eaten in its beautiful case, valueless
except as a relic. The moldering instrument is a reminder that a life withdrawn from all
service to others loses its meaning.
Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992.
During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers
repariing a small defensive barrier. their leader was shouting instructions, but making no
attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, "Sir, I
am a corporal!" The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the
exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, "Mr. Corporal,
next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your
commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again." It was none other than
Today in the Word, March 6, 1991.
Franklin Roosevelt's closest adviser during much of his presidency was a man named
Harry Hopkins. During World War II, when his influence with Roosevelt was at its peak,
Hopkins held no official Cabinet position. Moreover, Hopkins's closeness to Roosevelt
caused many to regard him as a shadowy, sinister figure. As a result he was a major
political liability to the President. A political foe once asked Roosevelt, "Why do
you keep Hopkins so close to you? You surely realize that people distrust him and resent
his influence." Roosevelt replied, "Someday you may well be sitting here where I
am now as President of the United States. And when you are, you'll be looking at that door
over there and knowing that practically everybody who walks through it wants something out
of you. You'll learn what a lonely job this is, and you'll discover the need for somebody
like Harry Hopkins, who asks for nothing except to serve you." Winston Churchill
rated Hopkins as one of the half-dozen most powerful men in the world in the early 1940s.
And the sole source of Hopkins's power was his willingness to serve.
Discipleship Journal, Issue 39 (1987), p. 5.
In 1878, when William Booth's Salvation Army was beginning to make its mark, men and
women from all over the world began to enlist. One man, who had once dreamed of becoming a
bishop, crossed the Atlantic from America to England to enlist. Samuel Brengle left a fine
pastorate to join Booth's Army. But at first General Booth accepted his services
reluctantly and grudgingly. Booth said to Brengle, "You've been your own boss too
long." And in order to instill humility in Brengle, he set him to work cleaning the
boots of other trainees. Discouraged, Brengle said to himself, "Have I followed my
own fancy across the Atlantic in order to black boots?" And then, as in a vision, he
saw Jesus bending over the feet of rough, unlettered fishermen. "Lord," he
whispered, "you washed their feet; I will black their shoes."
K Hughes, Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome,
Tyndale, 1988, p. 45.
In the spring of 1883 two young men graduated from medical school. The two differed
from one another in both appearance and ambition. Ben was short and stocky. Will was tall
and thin. Ben dreamed of practicing medicine on the East Coast. will wanted to work in a
rural community. Ben begged his friend to go to New York where they could both make a
fortune. Will refused. His friend called him foolish for wanting to practice medicine in
the Midwest. "But," will said, "I want first of all to be a great
surgeon...the very best, if I have the ability." Years later the wealthy and powerful
came from around the world to be treated by Will at his clinic...the Mayo Clinic.
Today in the Word, July, 1990, p. 17.
It had been a long day on Capitol Hill for Senator John Stennis. He was looking forward
to a bit of relaxion when he got home. After parking the car, he began to walk toward his
front door. Then it happened. Two people came out of the darkness, robbed him, and shot
him twice. News of the shooting of Senator Stennis, the chairman of the powerful Armed
Forces Committee, shocked Washington and the nation. For nearly seven hours, Senator
Stennis was on the operating table at Walter Reed Hospital. Less than two hours later,
another politician was driving home when he heard about the shooting. He turned his car
around and drove directly to the hospital. In the hospital, he noticed that the staff was
swamped and could not keep up with the incoming calls about the Senator's condition. He
spotted an unattended switchboard, sat down, and voluntarily went to work. He continued
taking calls until daylight. Sometime during that next day, he stood up, stretched, put on
his overcoat, and just before leaving, he introduced himself quietly to the other
operator, "I'm Mark Hatfield. Happy to help out." Then Senator Mark Hatfield
unobtrusively walked out. The press could hardly handle that story. There seemed to be no
way for a conservative Republican to give a liberal Democrat a tip of the hat, let alone
spend hours doing a menial task and be "happy to help out."
Knofel Stanton, Heaven Bound Living, Standard, 1989, p. 35.
Years ago, the Salvation Army was holding an international convention and their
founder, Gen. William Booth, could not attend because of physical weakness. He cabled his
convention message to them. It was one word: "OTHERS."
Whatever is done for God, without respect of its comparative character as related to
other acts, is service, and only that is service. Service is, comprehensively speaking,
doing the will of God. He is the object. All is for Him, for His sake, as unto the Lord,
not as unto man. Hence, even the humblest act of humblest disciple acquires a certain
divine quality by its being done with reference to Him.
The supreme test of service is this: 'For whom am I doing this?' Much that we call
service to Christ is not such at all....If we are doing this for Christ, we shall not care
for human reward or even recognition. Our work must again be tested by three propositions:
Is it work from God, as given us to do from Him; for God, as finding in Him its secret of
power; and with God, as only a part of His work in which we engage as co-workers with
A.T. Pierson wrote, The Truth.