As my family easily drifted off to sleep after a long, full Saturday, I lay awake on my bunk considering what I would write about our experience. What am I taking away from Family Camp, aside from the fact – albeit important – that camp was fun? A particular message? A point John made during the devotional?
And what came to mind were faces.
The smile on John’s face as he welcomed us when we pulled into camp for the first time. The friendliness of Jay, who was just there to help set up, but was happy to greet us, offer his assistance if we needed anything, and tell us what exciting things to expect from our weekend. The delight in each college student’s eyes as they played with our daughter and gave her giant hugs. And the joy on her face each time she saw one of those students or when they called out to her from across the way. Mary’s warmth as she answered our questions. Clark, Emily, the kitchen staff . . . each person who served us over the weekend did so joyfully. Not as though they were doing a service, but as though they truly loved being available to us. As if they got just as much pleasure and benefit from serving us, as we did from receiving their care and thoughtfulness.
They wanted to be there. They wanted to serve us.
And I realized that this is why Jesus talks about serving others, and why he says that our love for each other is our testimony to the world. True service – that which comes out of the overflow of our love for Christ and his pouring into us – is enjoyable both to ourselves and those we serve. Servant leadership is powerful and moving. And contrary to our natural tendency.
I think of the number of times I trudge through service because it’s what I’m “supposed” to do. And certainly service does often require personal sacrifice. But it doesn’t have to look and feel like drudgery. And it becomes a shining testimony, when we can find a way to see the beauty and enjoyment in it. We have to force ourselves to look beyond the sacrifices we must make in order to serve (because that’s not the point anyway). We have the opportunity to be used by God to love his people. Imperfect, messy us – he chooses to use us! As he continues to pour into us, from our full cups we can easily pour into each other.
I left Family Camp with many thoughts and reflections, but this vivid picture of servant leadership is among the most important. That thought also got me thinking about how we are all gifted differently, and how awesome it is when we serve through those gifts . . . but that’s for another post.