Four Reasons Serving is Good for your Soul
Have you ever volunteered to do something, help someone out, with the intention that you were going to do all the benefitting for the other person or group you were serving, and then you ended up being the one blessed?
Each one of us was uniquely made. The Population Reference Bureau estimates that there have been 107-108 billion people that have lived on this earth and not one of them was created exactly the same. That is mind blowing! I believe, our Creator, God is infinitely powerful and made each one of us with a unique set of gifts, talents, abilities, experiences and personality traits. I also believe at the core of who we are we were designed to be a part of community. These two core beliefs of mine, create an opportunity for service. One person or group has a gift, talent or ability that the other is without. That means someone is always lacking. Someone needing the gifts, talents and abilities that another person has. These two combined create an atmosphere where wild things happen when you serve.
What I have seen, and experienced time and time again is that the person going in to serve goes in with one expectation and something completely different can happen.
Let me give you an example:
* Three years ago, I went on a mission trip to Guatemala. We went there to serve children and families, as well as share our beliefs with them. One of the many things we did in preparation for the trip was sew dresses for babies and children. Now I do not consider myself anywhere close to a seamstress, but my mom did teach me how to run a sewing machine 30 years ago when I sewed a puppy dog pattern for one of my first 4-H projects. I could sew a button on, but that was about it. Quickly the familiarity of running the foot peddle and lining up the fabric with where I wanted the thred to go came back to me and I was off and sewing dresses. Really, it was quite simple, even my 10-year-old son was able to do it! We brought about 100 dresses with us to distribute to children on home visits and to a school. Two of us had an opportunity to speak with a group of ladies that came to the church weekly to learn a new skill, make a craft, etc. Well it just so happened that the day they were meeting when Heather and I were there, they were sewing. I don’t remember what they came to sew, but quickly our conversation switched to these dresses. It wasn’t your typically conversation because they were speaking in Spanish and we had a translator. I could see the translator had a couple women gathered around her and they were asking were questions about these dresses. Because of my curiosity I walked over to our translator, Patty, and she said that the ladies are wondering about how to make these dresses. I said, well I can show them all I need are two pieces of fabric and I gave them the dimensions. I no more than turned around and there was a petite Guatemalan lady standing with a smile on her face and two pieces of fabric in her hand that were exactly the measurements I needed to be able to demonstrate how to make the dresses. My heart was full! God had orchestrated my gifts, talents, abilities and experiences to be able to serve at this moment and I was the one being blessed! I hadn’t gone into this situation of serving with sewing dresses on my radar. We were there to share our stories with them, love on them and minister to them. Little did I know, God had different plans and I was the one being blessed!
Here are 4 Reasons I believe Serving is Good for your Soul:
1 – It is in alignment with how we were created. Anytime you are in alignment with what is natural, who you are at the core there is something deep inside that is nurtured.
2 – The focus is no longer on you. When we serve, you are no longer thinking about the troubles you have. Your financial burdens, your health issues, your children that just won’t listen to a word you say. When you serve, the focus is on caring, loving and helping another person or group.
3 – You see things from a different perspective. We are often limited by our own experiences and the perspective we see a given situation. When we put ourselves in a situation that is out of our norm, we are given an opportunity to see life through a different lens.
4 – It may cause you to get uncomfortable. The only way you can grow as a person, personally, professionally and spiritually is to get outside your comfort zone. Stretch yourself in news ways that you haven’t before.
A couple suggestions when you head out to serve:
1 – Check your motives. If you’re looking to benefit from serving than you have the wrong motives. It’s not about you!
2 – Listen more than you speak. We were created with two ears and one mouth for a reason. To listen and not be heard. If you are doing all the talking then you never really have an opportunity to find out how the other person or group is doing, what is their real need, what’s their biggest challenges.
3 – Be genuine and authentic. We are all human and all at some point in our lives will have a need that we can’t meet on our own. Put yourself in the other persons shoes as much as you can.
5 – Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Sometimes the most soul changing experiences are not prearranged, they don’t come at the most convenient time and they take us out of our comfort zone.
Often, we think there is more work to be done in another country, but I believe there is just as much work to be done in our own homes, communities, state and country. Just this past weekend, our small group from church had an opportunity to serve at a local non-profit called Sleep in Heavenly Peace. They build bunk beds for children that do not have a place to sleep. Now I leave in Eastern Iowa a fairly blue-collar area with hard-working friendly people. The average Iowan would not think there was a need for beds for children to sleep in, but there is. In a county with a population of 225,000 there is estimated that about 2% or 4,500 children don’t have beds to sleep in. That’s a lot! There is work to be done, so do something, serve somewhere and I dare your soul to be changed forever.