Thursday, October 13, 2011

Serving with Excellence

This weekend my husband and I had an experience that left us nearly speechless.  I have had some rose bushes in front of my porch that were there when we moved in.  When the bushes are in full bloom they are beautiful.  But, when the season is not rose season or the winter comes then the bushes are such an eye sore.  They are bare, dead, and just look trashy.  I have wanted to pull them up for quite some time and just haven't.  Quite frankly, I didn't want to deal with the thorns on the bushes.  I knew I would get cuts, and scrapes, and end up being frustrated over the whole ordeal.  

This past Saturday I had a garage sale as a "Fall Cleanout" effort.  I had a gentleman comment on the rose bushes.  I told him my plans for them and he was shocked.  He asked me what I was going to do with them and I told him just put them out for the trash and sanitation crew.  He was almost speechless.  I could tell he wanted to ask me a question but there was probably a small language barrier see, he was a Hispanic gentleman.  While his English was good, I could tell he still struggled some with the language that was not his native tongue. I told him if he wanted to pull all 7 bushes up, then he could have them.  He was astonished and asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this.  I assured him I was very serious and he was welcome to them if he wanted to pull them. He was so excited.  He said he would be back later, looked at the street number on my house and left.  Several hours later he returned, knocked on our door, and we assured him it was still okay.  My friends, it took him probably less than 20 minutes to pull all the bushes.  He knocked on the door, told us thank you.  He was going home to plant them in barrells so they would root, then plant them around his house for his wife.  He was so grateful for the bushes.  As my husband said, they meant something to him.  How do we know they meant something to him?  Because not only did he pull the bushes, he filled in the holes, raked the dirt out of our grass that was left, and washed our sidewalks off.  He cleaned up after himself.  He did more than we expected him to do.  He could have easily left us with a mess to clean up, but he did not.  I consider this a form of "serving with excellence."  

This might be a simple illustration and may not mean much to some of you.  But how often do we do something and we only do it halfway?  How often do we not do our very best or exceed someone's expectations with what we are tasked to do?  How often do we worry too much about the thorns and the pain that might come with completing the job?  But more than that, how many of us clean up a mess we might make during the task? Or do we leave it for someone else to clean up?

"That isn't my job." 

"I don't remember reading that in my job description." 

We all have thought or said those two statements above at some point in our lives.  I know I have.  I get so tired of being held responsible for things that "are not my job."  I heard it a lot from my kids when they were growing up.  I would ask one of them to clean up the mess in the bathroom.  "It isn't mine" was usually the response I received.  

There are many ways and roles in which we serve. We are employees and employers; we are husbands and wives; we are mothers and fathers; we are brothers and sisters; we are daughters and sons. Each of these functions has methods of serving. We can choose to serve in each position in such a manner that we are examples of what the Body of Christ should be. OR we can serve in each position in such a manner that we lose our flavor as salt to a world that so desperately needs to see Christ in us.

Romans 12:2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We must conduct ourselves in such a manner that is above reproach. We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God to unbelievers that do not know Him. In some cases, we are their opportunity to see Christ’s love in action. What are we going to show them? What will our example be? Paul told the Philippians:

 Phil 1:27: Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

“Let your conduct be worthy…” We have a responsibility to allow the Lord to work into us the character we are to have (2 Peter 1:5-11). We are to be different than the non-believers or the Christians that do not exhibit the characteristics in 2 Peter Chapter 1. Paul goes on to say in Romans 12:9-21 that we are to behave with love. Of course, there is much more in those scriptures than just that. We are not to do the things the unbelievers do. We are not to lash out in anger. We are not to deliver evil if we are wronged. We are to return good for evil. We are too feed our enemies and to provide a drink if they are thirsty. We are to overcome evil with good.

Paul told the Colossians how to serve with excellence.

Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

I cannot possibly imagine what would happen if each and every one of us that calls ourselves a Christian said and did everything every day as if we were doing and saying everything directly to Jesus Christ. But that is serving with excellence. That is the attitude we need to develop if we are going to be the light and the salt that we are supposed to be.

Matthew 5:13-16: You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.

I am striving every day to be better; to seek the heart of the Father for a hurting world. I want to make myself available to be used by God and to be the example that I must be as a citizen of the Kingdom. I pray that the Lord will show me where I am lacking in character and conduct. I pray that the Lord will open my eyes to those that need help and the love of a Father that cared so much that He sent His Son into this world to be ransom for their souls.

What about you?  Are you serving with excellence?  Are you representing the Kingdom of God with excellence? 

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