How to Raise Servants in a Serve-Me World

I can’t think of service without an episode of The Cosby Show popping into my head. Cliff and Claire Huxtable are in the living room and the little neighbor boy shows up. Claire stands up and offers to get her husband, Cliff, a cup of coffee and the little boy gets a shocked look on his face.

“I didn’t think you did that sort of thing, Mrs. Huxtable.”

“What sort of thing?” she asks.

“You know. Serve your man.”

Instantly, Claire is offended and proceeds to tell the boy, in no uncertain terms, that she is not serving her man. The mere thought of serving another person, even her husband, was offensive to her.

The Serving Saviorwashingdishes

Being considered a servant was never offensive to Christ. One of His final lessons to his disciples was one of service. As He knelt before each man and washed his feet, Christ instructed them to do the same for each other.

For I have given you an example, that you should do just as I have done to you. – John 13:15

The problem is that this is contrary to what the world teaches. We live in a what’s-in-it-for-me kind of world. How can we teach our children that there is beauty in servanthood? How can we raise servants in a serve-me world?

  • Teach them to ask, “What can I do to help?” When it is time for my girls to clean their room, my three-year-old sometimes is found wandering aimlessly around the room. She wants to do something, but she doesn’t know what to do. I have taught her to walk up to one of her sisters and ask what she can do to help. The fact is that, left to our own devices, we will be selfish. Servanthood needs to be taught.
  • Let them see you serving. If you have ever tried to sneak the last piece of a pie when no one was looking, then you have discovered that someone is always looking. If you want your children to serve others, then that is what they need to see you doing.
  • Get uncomfortable. I have mentioned my introversion. I have admitted being socially awkward. To serve others, however, we must step out of our comfort zones. It means meeting people where they are and our children need to see us doing just that. Always being comfortable should make us uncomfortable.
  • Serve with a smile. Mother Theresa once said that the miracle was not the work she did, but that she was happy to do it. If we want our children to be true servants, we must instill in them a love of serving. It should be a desire and not an obligation.

We want our children to be healthy and happy. We want them to be well-rounded and productive members of society. We want them to be safe and successful. We want them to take care of us when we are old. {Oh, is that just me?}

Ultimately, however, we should want them to follow Jesus wherever He leads them. If they do that, God will take care of whatever else they need.

But seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

Whether it was the hungry or the helpless, Jesus served them.

Whether it was a brother or a betrayer, Jesus served them.

If we want to raise servants, we need to be servants.

How to Know if Your Fruit is Fake

The first thing I noticed when I walked into her kitchen was a beautiful glass dish full of bright, yellow lemons. I had been spending too much time on Pinterest and had been noticing that everyone seemed to have this fresh fruit in the kitchen thing down pat. It was cheery. It was refreshing. It was perfect.

After a few minutes of chit chat, I had to ask.

“How long will those lemons stay pretty and yellow like that”?

My friend gave a grin, took one out and bounced it on the counter.

“Forever”, she said. “They’re fake”.

We still laugh about that. I was totally fooled by a bowl of fake fruit. While sitting in a fancy dish, you would never know the truth. If you were ever in need of some lemon juice, however, you would quickly discover that fake lemons are pretty but not useful.

fruitFruit of the Spirit

I couldn’t help but think of those lemons as I read in Galatians, this morning.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… – Galatians 5:22-23

If you are a follower of Christ, there should be some fruit on display in your life and it should be real. People interacting with you should be able to tell that there is something refreshingly different about you. In this world where so many things are fake, people will be watching to see if you are what you seem.

It is no light thing to call yourself a Christian. Christians are to walk as Christ walked and to love like He loved. There are people who are hurting and struggling. They will look to your life to see if Jesus has made a difference. If the fruit in your life is all for a show on Sunday morning, they will not be interested. If your fruit does not cause you to respond differently or treat others better, no one will be interested in the Christ you claim.

How can you know if your fruit is fake?

  • Do you only love people who love you back?
  • Do you carry a grudge instead of grace?
  • Does your peace turn into worry when things go wrong?
  • Do you respond in kind instead of with kindness?
  • Are you quick to complain when things don’t go your way?
  • Does your self-control go out the window when someone cuts you off on the interstate?
  • Are you only generous when it isn’t a sacrifice?
  • Do you only serve when it’s convenient?
  • Are you quick to be critical?
  • Do you fail to forgive?

Let’s be honest. Fake fruit has its charms. It is always pretty. It is easy to maintain. If displayed properly, it impresses others. You just have to blow the dust off of it every now and then and everything is great.

When hard times come, however, a fake lemon won’t take you very far. Some plastic fruit won’t give you peace at night when something has gone terribly wrong.

The real fruit – the kind that comes with sacrifice and sweat – is what Christ-followers need to be offering to the world around them.

5 Ways to Filter Negative Noise in Your Life

I am currently the only one awake in my house. That is nothing short of a miracle. I want to write, but I also want to sit and enjoy the silence. Life just seems so loud these days. I know what you’re thinking. How can life not be loud with five kids? Here’s the thing, though. The kids are not the noise. 20120920-011548.jpg

Don’t get me wrong. They can be very loud. At the end of the day, however, they are not the noise that stresses out my soul. It is the anger on the Internet. It is the drama constantly unfolding on the television. It is the discord in church pews. It is neighbors who just can’t get along.

Noise. Noise. Noise.

Do you feel that way too? Do you wish there was a tad less noise in your life? Here are five changes you can make to filter out some of the negative noise.

Filtering Negative Noise

  • Begin your day with quiet. For years, my alarm clock has been whichever kid woke up first. With the addition of each infant, I was certain that, the longer she slept, the more refreshed I would feel upon awakening. That is not what happens. It doesn’t matter if she wakes up at 5:45 or 8:00, if I stay in bed until she awakens, I am thrown headlong into the noise of the day. I need a moment of quiet. It may only be five minutes, but it will be my five minutes.
  • Choose better background noise. Whether you are a retiree or a stay at home parent, those at home sometimes prefer background noise. The default tool is often the television. The television, however, can be full of negative emotions and scenarios. Instead, choose to listen to a podcast, music or audio book. Listening to other things will not only set a better tone but it enables you to move around the house while listening.
  • Choose the better portion. Sometimes, the loudest noise is inside our own heads. We, like Martha, are anxious and troubled about so many things. Jesus did not say that Mary did not have things which could have caused her to feel anxious and troubled. The difference was that Mary chose the better thing to focus on. Choose worship over worry.
  • Leave the noise behind. There is a great big, beautiful world full of adventure and excitement. It is right outside your door. Go and explore. Step away from the computer. Walk away from the chores. Take your family and leave your phone. Eat ice cream. Sit on a park bench. Enjoy life.
  • End your day with quiet. Whether your day is full of staff meetings and business lunches or play dates and doctor’s appointments, it is important to end where you began. Take a deep breath. Read a little. Laugh with someone. Thank God for the people He has placed in your life. Drink a little something hot. Dream about tomorrow.

If we are not intentionally seeking some quiet, the negative noises will take over.

What do you do to add a little peace and quiet to your day?

Nothing Says Adult Like Voluntarily Going to the Dentist

I just got back from the dentist’s office. I dread these trips more than I did as a kid. When someone is staring into your mouth with a bright light and a magnifying glass, it is hard to hide your 5 cups a day coffee habit and your aversion to flossing. The truth comes out, my friends, and it isn’t pretty.

The worst part of these trips, however, is not the shiny instruments of death or the way your gums beg for mercy. No, the worst part is what goes on inside your head. And, when I say your head, I totally mean mine. It just makes me feel better to pretend we are talking about you.

So, this is what goes on inside my head during a teeth cleaning.free 1

Do I have coffee breath because that is a dead giveaway?

Where am I supposed to look?

She’s done already? Oh, she is just changing tools.

I’m never coming here again.

Am I supposed to swallow this water she’s pouring into my mouth?

How long am I supposed to close my mouth on that air, spit  vacuumy thing?

Why is she talking to me?

I think I just licked her finger.

She is done! Nope, another false alarm.

I taste blood. Why do I taste blood?

What did she just type into the computer? It’s probably really bad.

I’m never coming here, again.

Was that her stomach or mine?

I don’t know where to put my tongue.

How much are they charging me for this pleasure?

I’m never coming here again. 

Oh, she’s done. That wasn’t too bad.

Six months? Sure, see you then!

That is your glimpse into the mind of a crazy woman. It’s pretty scary.

heart sugar cookie****

In other non-dental {you’re welcome} news, I have been thinking about a verse I read the other day.

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment. – Luke 7:37

This is a fairly familiar passage of Scripture. A woman known for her sinfulness dares to enter a Pharisee’s house uninvited. Why would she do that? Why would she put herself in a position where she would surely be ridiculed? What made her want to be in a place where she was not wanted? Why was she willing to put herself out there like that?

Why, indeed?

The answer is simple. This woman showed up at that house because Jesus was there. She was not concerned with what others thought or knew about her. She could handle the judgmental glances because her eyes were only on Him. She was willing to get a little uncomfortable in order to get a little closer to Christ. 

It got me thinking.

When is the last time I have willingly been uncomfortable in order to be a little closer to Jesus?

To the Mama With No One to Hold Her Coffee

coffeeThe other day, my three oldest children went to their grandmother’s house. That left me with only two little ones. A piece of cake, right? Wrong, y’all. Really, really wrong. So, for any of you who have ever looked at a mama with a thousand or five kids and thought, “I could never do that,” this is for you.

Join me over on Moms Magazine and I will tell you about the day I tried to take my two littles on an outing without any big kids to help me. It was every bit as exhausting as it sounds. See you there!

<3 Stacy