Here we go! We are at that time of the year when we decide to make lofty and life changing goals. I’m that guy too, who creates a list of goals to check off. Unfortunately like many of us, I lose that list by day three. According to the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Only 8% of the 45% stick to their resolutions. Now that may seem like a low number, but that is promising! Stay tuned.
Most resolutions are made about fitness, money or even finding love. These are all great goals to want to achieve. Every year we reboot our mindset on what we feel we need to be joyful about in our life. “What do I need to change about myself or my circumstances to gain happiness?” I used to spend many days on that question, but then I realized something bigger than myself.
My wife and I love Jesus. We desire to follow Him with our whole heart. Everyone who believes and who doesn’t believe has heard of Jesus. People have heard of His life of service and love. Jesus to me and my family is more than just, ” A Great Man,” to us. He is Our Savior. Now if we truly desire to follow Him with our whole heart, we should want to SERVE others. It hit me hard knowing that Jesus washed the feet of the one who would then send Him to the cross and He knew that beforehand. He went against all adversity and sacrifice to demonstrate His love for the hearts of people. It was and still is a wake up call to our heart. The reason we want to serve is because we love Jesus.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” -1 Peter 4:10
Where do you stand on your New Year’s resolutions? What if you took this heart of service into your home, work, friends, neighbors, in society or even with your adversary? Let’s make SERVING OTHERS tops on our New Year’s goal list. This is not just a challenge for you, but for me too. Invite your friends to join in. How about we focus this year on making a change in the lives of others? Can we succeed…YES. I have Hope that we can really shock each other and heal lives.
Below is a list of 5 different groups of people to serve. There are 5 WAYS to serve each group. Feel free to find many more ways to increase that list. While we know of the basics of service in the community, there are areas we may have not thought of serving. Plan ahead and take this in steps.
- Go through the list.
- Wake up every morning this year and make a choice of who and how you will serve.
- Never expect anything back or a reward for service.
Keep in mind that a true servant makes a decision outside of him or herself to becoming a chair for someone else. You are a support, a place of rest, balance, love, comfort, or relief for the other person’s spirit. It could be in the moment or in a lifetime.
Society gets caught up in ”self” and it has destroyed marriage. Serving your spouse is a powerful display of affection and love in a marriage. God calls for it in our household. We should want to serve our spouses right? We fall into a trap of forgetting our spouse when we get caught up in the world. We go home to them every day tired from business, or we look at what everyone else is doing to achieve stuff. Let’s look in our own home for immediate service. Advantage is taken of the most precious being in our lives. Let’s restore, enhance, and show our love to the one we said, “I DO.”
“According to the Bible, the marriage act is more than a physical act. It is an act of sharing. It is an act of communion. It is an act of total self-giving wherein the husband gives himself completely to the wife, and the wife gives herself to the husband in such a way that the two actually become one flesh.” – Wayne Mack
- Just Wait, Be patient – Your spouse may have had a stressful day. Before explaining your day, give them a chance to rest from their day.
- “Pre Argument” Choirs or Errands – All of us know what our wives/husbands ask us to do, but we always forget or don’t see it as important. Respecting their call for help around the home is a must. Avoid the common argument.
- Respecting Space – We tend to have hobbies or friends we just love to be around, giving each other space to grow is important. Each person is an individual first, even in a marriage. We are supporting each other’s walk, though we walk side by side on a journey together.
- Words of Encouragement – This should be a given, but it is easily forgotten. This one needs to become a habit for me to do. As couples, we are each other’s cheerleader in life. Everyday do the dance, spell out their name and tell them, “You Got THIS!”
- Just Ask – Seems simple right? Bring out the tray of grapes and the leaf fan! Ask them, “Baby..What do you need for me to do today.” Be their servant. Wash dishes, make dinner, go to the store, etc…
2. SINGLE PARENTS
There are many factors that lead to single parenting, but not enough hands reaching out to help. While there is a huge majority of mothers in survival mode with their kids, we can’t forget the dads out there fighting the good fight. Growing up with just my mother put a special notch in my heart for parents raising their kids alone. Now that my wife and I have a child, my respect level has risen even higher. Let’s get back to , ” It takes a village.”
- Invite to a “HEALTHY” Church – A healthy church environment knows that this is its biblical duty. Bring them in, love on them, pray for them and give them as much support as needed.
- Watch Their “Gifts” – Offer them free babysitting so that they may get a nice break without worrying about the cost.
- Words of Encouragement – When I think about the struggle my mom went through and many single parents go through today, words of Hope can go a long way. The day in and day out struggle they experience brings them to their knees. Lift them up, remind them that they are special and that there is hope.
- Married Couples Adoption – Like child adoption, you accept the responsibility of taking care of a parent and their child until they get on their feet. What if married couples stepped up to this way of service? Create a plan for weekly, monthly or even yearly service. A single parent would have the support of a couple helping them along, taking on some or more needs to give relief to that parent. I could see everyone becoming a family at some point along this journey of service.
- Handle Their List – They have a big list of errands and needs. Ask them what is needed. Send them on vacation and take over for the day or days!
One of the most powerful people that God has ever gifted is, “THE TEACHER.” The world has put them as a very low priority. How do we lift them up? They go through strenuous days with little supplies or help. Students are not always friendly. Classes become overcrowded and they have to be in charge. Teachers become parents, educators, therapist, mediators and emotional punching bags. This goes for all teachers in every profession and service. Show them the priceless value they are in building up our community.
“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.” – Author Unknown
- Where is the Teacher’s Apple – How about some baked goods for the teacher? A parent can go to the school and take a certain teacher or teachers out to lunch. Send them lunch or treats. Food does amazing things to a person’s spirit.
- Supplies Supplies Supplies – This is a constant cry for help. Many teachers are paying out of their pocket for their supplies. WHY? Let’s help since they are teaching our kids and raising them.
- Classroom Cleanups – My wife and I did this once with a church and it is extremely rewarding. What makes it more powerful is getting the students who use the classrooms involved with the cleanups. A fresh and clean class will put the twinkle back in the teacher’s eyes.
- Hook Up Their Lounge – This is a great way to get parents involved. Come together and make the teacher’s lounge beautiful. Put finances and design ideas together and hook up that lounge, with the school’s permission of course.
- Invite Them to Dinner – Make it a community between you and the teachers. Have them over at separate times to get to know them. Give them plenty of food, love, prayer and affirmations to show them how much you care.
They are the least thought of in a fast paced world. The wise have walked across the world on foot, building it up brick by brick. Today we just hover over the hard work that was made with their hands. About 3 years ago, the struggle of Alzheimer’s began to my wife’s father, which ultimately led to his passing. We saw him frequently at his home, then the last days in a hospice. On one of his last days, I went alone to see him and I prayed, talked, massaged and stared at him. He didn’t talk back, but the TIME spent together was needed. While he needed it, I realized it was needed for me. I learned so much about life’s pain and beauty all in that moment. It was the last time I saw him. My wife was touched with a heart for the elderly when her father passed. Can we as a society remember them now? Fill them up with joy and laughter. Learn from them.
“In youth the days are short and the years are long. In old age the years are short and day’s long.” -Pope Paul VI
- Time – Talk about a powerful tool. When using this tool appropriately , it can change lives! Go to your grandparents, neighbor or go to that nearby hospice/retirement home and give time while there is still time to give.
- Retirement Home/Hospice Care Staff – A happy staff makes a happy home for the residents. There are a few volunteers for such high demand of care. Ask the staff, “What do You need?” Give to them or join them.
- Bring Your Baby – Once you’ve established friendships, bring your child along. It provides joy, laughter and youth to a tough environment.
- Groceries – Does your neighbor need help with their grocery list? Jump in and serve. You may end up gaining a beautiful friendship.
- Bring A friend – This could be helpful for both sides. Bringing a friend could cause them to be moved by their experience, which could turn into more help. They might repeat the 5 WAYS of service in their community.
The toughest person to love or serve is the one we dislike. Maybe it is a family member, customer, client, boss, co-worker or neighbor that gets under our skin. While this may be a huge challenge for us, it could also change lives. We don’t know where each person is coming from, and what pain we have experienced in our life that has made us who we are today. Everyone has an amazing testimony. It is time for us to ask and find out. So much bad is happening in our small earth these days. What if we extended our hand to our “Grinch”, like Whoville and sing praises of joy? The heart could grow bigger and a new loving friendship could sprout. No one is perfect. Just maybe, we are the “Grinch.” Extend grace to everyone.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- Forgive – Difficult to do indeed, but make that your first step. Maybe you have to apologize first about something. Study them to gain an understanding of, “Why?” Don’t take anything personal. If you need to, voice your forgiveness to them. Bitterness will rot us.
- Join them – A great way to learn about others is to join them in their hobbies or favorite places to go to, with discernment of course. It may be something you are strongly against. A favorite restaurant is always a great start.
- Needs – Everyone has needs, it may be one of the reasons why your adversary feels upset. Ask questions or if you see an obvious need, fulfill that need. Always go with discernment. Pay attention and answer what can be a cry for help for them.
- Bring Out the Best – There is hope. Express to the one who bothers you what awesome characteristics they have. The insecurities of life could be weighing their thoughts.
- Pray for all of them – Ultimately praying to the Lord, who created you, me, and them, knows what hurts their heart. They are an individual who may feel like life didn’t deal them a fair hand. Share testimony, share hope and lift them up. Your adversary can become your brother, sister or an amazing family member. I know the power of the Lord can heal. Communicate with Him in prayer.
All of these may seem like a daunting task. There are areas you may want or need to focus on. I’m with you on this journey. Plenty of these areas of service are lacking in my life. Remember that 8% of individuals out of 45% achieving their New Year’s Resolutions? Take that 8% and apply it to service. You would have 11 million people serving in their marriage, lifting up single parents, supporting our teachers, caring for the elderly and hugging their adversaries. Think about what the world could become like if we stood up for serving. What would it be like if you took just one way of service and applied it to your life? It would be worth it. Challenge yourself to change lives, because it will change yours. Plant the seed of Hope in all you come across. Serve your community. I will pray for you as you get up and go. You either are the one in need of service or you will be serving. Share this with others and your advice is welcome. Let’s help each other grow and complete this list.
Are you the 8%?