Posts Tagged ‘serving’

“I didn’t join the Army to pick weeds out of rock beds.”The words were spoken over a decade ago.  In fact, it has been almost 15 years since I heard them.  I remember the conversation well.  I was in jump school at Fort Benning, GA and there was a break in the training.  The Army doesn’t like to pay its soldiers to sit around and do nothing (especially in a training environment), so when there is a lull in legitimate work, special provisions are made.  Cleanliness is a virtue in the military, and someone has to make everything neat and tidy.  The task at hand was a simple one, and not nearly as degrading as spending an entire Saturday cleaning bathrooms.  Our task at the time was picking weeds out of a gravel bed.Sometimes we have to do things that sound stupid, or seem like a waste of time.  There are always tasks that we have to do that we just don’t want to do.  We are, inherently, selfish beings who have been told to look after number one.  We are groomed to put ourselves, our needs, our desires, above all others.  We are also told that we should bail out of any situation that does not bring us joy and pleasure.

Nobody joins the Army to pick weeds out of rock beds.  But sometimes picking weeds out of rock beds just so happens to be the assignment for the day.

This is how the Army determines success

I love to complain about things.  I’m not bragging about it, but I generally need to vent about whatever is frustrating me.  At times I can take things a little far, but I know that if I don’t say something about it, I just sit and fume about whatever the problem is.  I know I complained about picking the weeds, but there is a big difference between complaining and feeling superior to the non-enjoyable parts of work.  I did not join the army to do menial tasks in the hot, July sun but that was what I was told to do.  I was not too good for that job.

I just got back from standing behind a concession stand at an Ohio State University football game this afternoon (I like to wait a few days before I edit and post my articles for those of you wondering why you aren’t reading this on a Saturday evening or a Sunday morning) and honestly, I did not want to go and help out.  I was not being paid for it, and this was supposed to be my first Saturday to relax at home with my wife in far too many weeks.  I was asked by a very close friend of mine who needed a couple of people to fill up gaps in the team.  I reluctantly accepted and woke up way earlier than I wanted to this morning to get up to the stadium by 9am.

Once I got over myself; my lack of sleep, my lack of quality time with my wife… I was able to enjoy myself.  I may not have enjoyed running around and fetching hot dogs, waters, popcorn, pretzels and all sorts of other stuff.  I may not have liked getting up early on a Saturday.  I may not have wanted to spend eight hours away from my wife.  But you know what?  I love helping people.  That’s why I’m in ministry.  That’s why I work for a school district instead of a corporation.  That’s also why I showed up this morning.  Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, because it helps others.  Someone has to serve food to hungry football fans.  Someone has to clean the bathrooms, and yes, someone even has to pick weeds out of rock beds.

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My church sent out two missions trips this month, one to Mexico and one to West Virginia.  Both were set up to server others, to help those less fortunate.  In this modern, middle-American society, we have many blessings.  We have money, time and numerous other resources.  We can accomplish pretty much anything we want, kind of like our parents always told us.  There are many reasons we choose to stay comfortable and apathetic, but that’s a different post for a different time.  The point for this post is that we have choices to make concerning what we do with what we have.

There are many people in the world, as well as in this country, who do not have access to the same resources as the rest of us.  There are people living in poverty and have no real way to lift themselves out.  There are even more who just don’t believe they can lift themselves out, but again, different time-different post.

While most of us are worried about having a new pair of shoes that match the color of our new shirt, or getting a new car because the old one is last year’s body style, there are people wondering how they’re going to find food tomorrow.  There are people who have no idea how they’re going to fix their leaky roof, or if they’ll ever be able to buy a car and not have to ride a bike or take a bus to work.  There are people who wear the same clothes to school every week because their parents cannot afford to buy more.  There are people who lack the resources necessary to meet basic needs, let alone buy any luxury items.  Like most of history, the problem is there are the haves and the have-nots.  The solution is very simple; those of us who have, we need to give to those who have not.

Jesus said it is simpler for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven.  The problem isn’t having money, it’s the tendency to hoard what we have.  We put our faith in our things, especially our money.  Jesus said we need to lose our life to gain life.  How are we supposed to serve both God and money?  We can’t do both.  If we want to serve God, we need to be willing to give what we have to those who have needs.  There are many people who live this way, but I think we can do better.  Actually, I know we can do better.

I am very proud of those who went to West Virginia and Mexico.  We even had some high school students on the trips.  Some people would argue that with the money spent on plane tickets and all the accompanying costs to travel, it would make more sense to send cash and stay home, but I don’t think it’s that easy.  There is something that happens when you leave your life behind for a while to help others.  Getting up out of your house, your neighborhood, even your country, to help others is so beneficial.  It shows people that you care when you spend time, money and energy to visit and help.  You prove that you care about them; that they are more than just a line item on a tax form.  Going away to help others in different cultures also leads to self discovery.  When I went to West Virginia a couple of years ago, I learned that I do have a lot of stuff, and that I am very focused on material things.  I am now working on relying less on those things so I can use what I do have to help others.

Hearing from those who went on the trips this year, I heard the same sentiments from 15 year olds.  If only I understood the value of truly helping others at that age.  Hopefully, the students who went on these trips will remember what they learned and continue to help and serve others.  Hopefully I will, too.