The co-director and head cook of our local Christian service camp facility and retreat center recently spoke to the Women’s Fellowship group at my local church. Jamie grew up in the Roseville church and made us smile with her memories of Children’s Church, our “SuperGang” midweek Bible club, and early memories of church camp. She told the story of one volunteer who wouldn’t greet campers with the expected, “How are you?” Instead, he asked, “What are you doing?”
This was in the day when campers helped set tables, wash dishes, and clean latrines. The kids might be hanging out at the flagpole, drying a dish, or scrubbing a table. Wasn’t it obvious to this clueless adult? Confusion grew when he wouldn’t accept their obvious answer. Instead, he shook his head and retorted, “No. You’re serving Jesus.”
That left an indelible impression on Jamie. She told how those words followed her into adulthood. Now, whenever she is cooking, preparing the facilities for the next round of campers, or paying the water bill, she’s encouraged by those words. She isn’t doing some thankless, small, nobody cares kind of task. She’s serving Jesus. Jamie expressed that now it is such a thrill to give back to the campers the gifts she had so taken for granted when she herself was a camper.
Serving Jesus in Europe
Her story reminded me about my own encounter with serving Jesus. I spent two weeks at a Bible training center near Vienna, Austria. The mission organization found it was cheaper to ask American volunteers to come to Europe on their own nickel and act as housekeepers and cooks instead of hiring local people to do the job. We got a taste of the organization’s efforts to train Eastern European and central Asian church leaders, the students saw what they thought were proud Americans taking on the biblical role of servants, and we took back exciting stories of God’s work to our home churches. What a win-win.
Sunny, the head cook, told us this early on. “You aren’t scrubbing potatoes. You aren’t wiping counters. By cooking and cleaning, you are freeing up young men and women to devote themselves full time to the study of God’s Word. You are serving Jesus.”
Now, I think there is no food more gross than a jar of slimy pimentos. One day, Sunny asked me to slice pimentos for the hot sandwiches we were preparing for lunch. My inner voice formulated what I wanted to tell her. Sunny, I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do. I will stay in the dish room the rest of the week. Just don’t make me slice pimentos!
Then I remembered: You aren’t slicing pimentos. You aren’t making sandwiches. You are serving Jesus.
What about you?
What is God calling you to do this week?
- Care for an elderly parent?
- Babysit your grandkids?
- Clean your house for company?
- Watch your teenager play softball on an extra hot afternoon?
- Show extra kindness to a beleaguered store clerk?
- Teach the preschool class at your local church?
- Weed the worship center’s outside flower bed?
- Mow a neighbor’s yard?
Are you dragging your feet? Does it seem unimportant? Does no one seem to care or appreciate your hard work?
Remember this: In whatever you do, you are serving Jesus.
And He is smiling.