Wednesday, December 13, 2017

At Your Service

Like it or not, we are servants. Parents of young kids know this. We should say to our kids in the morning, “At your service,” and again at midday and at night. We get groceries, trim fat off chicken breasts, wash grapes, cook, take out trash, change diapers, play, tuck in, do dishes and pick up toys. A parent’s servant status is an unavoidable fact not worth fighting.

Not only are we servants to our families, we are at the service of our employers, clients, co-workers, government and neighbors. I don’t mean “service” in a negative way- that we are unhappy captives. I mean we exist, in large part, to improve and enhance the lives of others (and others exists to improve and enhance our lives.) Notice your list of things to do. I have to get a gift card for Matt, pick up Gibson’s prescription, email Randy, get my notes ready for my meeting with Sam. I’ve heard your lists. They sound the same.

Some days I feel like I inhabit a body on cruise control, flowing through a preset day mostly meeting the needs and wants of others. To be clear, I am not unswervingly focused on others. Not even close. But even amidst selfishness, the outward tasks press us out, at least physically. It is good to let our bodies gravitate towards those tasks rather than resist them, because the opportunities and abilities to be a servant is not only a gift to those we serve, but ourselves.

We come to appreciate the ability to focus on others through our inability to. Let me explain. Many times we are so engrossed with ourselves we are unable to listen to or care about others. Sometimes when I feel empathy for someone I remember how much of a gift it is to be drawn out of myself because self can be a trap, and service is the way out. It is freedom. Every moment we are not self-absorbed is a gift to the world and ourselves.

Our body is the vessel that makes this service possible. To be “at your service” requires the faculties not only of our minds, but our kidneys and femurs, spinal fluid and heart valves, digestive system and knee cartilage. Our bodies are (fleeting) gifts from God that allow us to be servants. If we think that way we have no option but humility amidst our inevitable service.