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What Does Service Really Look Like?

Have you always wanted to serve people but never knew where to begin? Lisa Jo Baker helps you serve people through hospitality.

Have you always wanted to serve people but never knew where to begin? Lisa Jo Baker helps you serve people through hospitality.

I don’t know about you but when I think about the words service, calling, following Jesus, or discipleship I don’t always think about my refrigerator. Or my dining room table. Definitely not about my toilet or bathroom. I tend to think far off fuzzy thoughts about important titles and business cards, auditoriums, book contracts, or radio interviews. And then there’s an afternoon when Play-Doh® is strewn all over the floor in hard little dribs and drabs, the counters are covered in plates, and there have been a steady stream of people through our house by the end of the week, and it shows. Then, I remember, that this is what service mostly looks like.
 
We are everyday ministers of the gospel. It shows up in our homes like neighbor kids, friends who need a ride to the airport, hosting a home group, making a meal for a friend, or even better, welcoming a stranger at church. We can become blind to our own ministry that takes place every single day outside the spotlight but is caught in the bright glare of heaven’s gaze.
 
Because that’s where we will actually make our names. A name for being the place where neighbor kids feel welcome showing up unannounced. A name for opening the door even when it’s inconvenient. A name for making time, giving time, being available. Because our open front doors and sometimes nearly-bare refrigerators and sticky dining room tables will be the places we literally practice what we preach before we dare go take that message anywhere else.
 
I’m not always that good at making this obvious connection. I get irritated and tired and I like my own personal space. Admittedly, there are days I want to be wanted by important people with important titles more than I want to open my fridge to visitors who know me by name and have seen me in my Saturday afternoon sweatpants. But while I may have those thoughts, I don’t want them to be the boss of me.
 
I want my dining room table to be the boss of me, especially when I’m tempted to set my sights on something “better” than my right now, right here friends and neighbors. That table with the big, wide, country planks that have crumbs filling up the cracks. That table with the squeaky chairs we constantly have to repair. That table that can seat stray college students and Tuesday night friends. That table that is doing its best work when it’s messy and has sticky streaks and an extra bench added down one side. 

 

It’s the seat right next to me right now that is supposed to be my teacher. Whether my best friend, a new friend, a relative, a stranger, or one of my own children is sitting in it.

 

That table and my front door are teaching me that the one seat I need to focus on is the one next to me, not the one across the room or the aisle or even the other end of the table. It’s the seat right next to me right now that is supposed to be my teacher. Whether my best friend, a new friend, a relative, a stranger, or one of my own children is sitting in it.
 
Dear God, please help us not to miss the beauty of the seat right next to us. Help us to stop worrying about being impressive and instead to feed the hungry who show up at our tables. To feed them our best, our friendship, our time. To feed them our patience, our interest, our availability. Perhaps our friendships are only as big and deep as our hospitality. And I’m not talking about our decor or our skills in the kitchen. I’m talking about our willingness to invite people in despite our decor, not because of it.
 
This is living. Not just the making room for it with clean floors and plates, toothbrushes put away, and sinks wiped down. (Why on earth can’t they ever remember to rinse the sink? I mutter every night.) No, this is what those spaces are made for. They hold room for the people. And it’s the people who make us extraordinary.
 
Excerpted from the Bible study We Saved You a Seat by (in)courage © 2017. Lifeway Christian Resources. Used by permission.

We Saved You a Seat by (in)courage

Lisa-Jo Baker has been the community manager for www.incourage.me, an online home for women all over the world, for nearly a decade. She is the author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood, and her writings have been syndicated from New Zealand to New York. She lives just outside Washington, DC, with her husband and their three very loud kids.

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