Encouragement 11-19-03

November 19, 2003

Encouragement for Today


Service with a Smile

Mary Southerland


Key Verse: 


Proverbs 31:13; 15; 20 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.  She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. (NIV)




My daughter, Danna, is really counting on marrying a wealthy man.  Now there are many desires fueling this aspiration but one of her greatest wishes is that there will come a day when she employees personal servants.  She has it all worked out.  Since she will have a cook – there really is no reason to help me in the kitchen.  And because she will have a maid – there really is no reason to learn how to keep her room clean.  The list goes on but you get the general idea!


At the age of sixteen, Danna is a young woman whose generation, for the most part, believes and promotes the idea that we should serve ourselves – not others. The role of servant is not only deemed unimportant and insignificant but often relegated to the social status of a loser.  I love the paradox of God’s economy which is in direct opposition to all human reasoning or understanding. God’s perspective of service is radically different from ours and is powerfully illustrated in the life of the woman described in Proverbs 31. 


Proverbs 31:13; 15; 20 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.  She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. (NIV)


The Proverbs 31 woman had every opportunity and justification to live a life of leisure. Not only was her husband a prominent business man in the community, she was influential in her own right.  This woman was a highly visible leader, active in the community and in charge of many charity events.  However, she got up while it was still dark!  She made breakfast for her family and for those who served her. She chose to serve her family and her household!  The scripture tells us that she worked with “eager” hands which literally means,”in delight” or “with chosen joy”.  In other words, this woman chose to serve with joy.  That means we can choose to serve our family with joy as well!


My husband, Dan, served as a youth pastor for many years.  At our first church in South Florida we met a young man whose mom was very active in the church, his school, community events and was always busy helping others.  One day, this young man came to me in tears. It seemed that his parents were getting a divorce after twenty years of marriage. When I asked him why they were divorcing, I was stunned at his response.  I will never forget his answer, “My mom has time for everyone in the world - everyone except my dad and me!”  Why is it that many of us find it easier to serve everyone in love - except our family? 


Since my children were small, making the bed has been one of their daily jobs.  But being the terrific mom that I am, I told them that one day a week I would make their bed for them.  It could be a day when they were running late for school, were too tired, didn’t feel well or just did not want to make it. Whatever the reason, I told Jered and Danna that I wanted to “serve them” by making their beds one day a week. I did this for years before I realized the lesson being taught by this one simple act of kindness.


One morning I was exhausted from several sleepless nights spent in the hospital with Dan who was recovering from emergency surgery.  I took one look at my rumpled bed and just did not have the energy to make it.  After a shower and a cup of caffeine I was ready to tackle the simple chore and headed for the bedroom.  What I saw stopped me in my tracks - my eleven year old daughter, Danna, making my bed.  Sensing my presence, she turned and grinned, “I just thought it was your turn, Mom.” Wow!  My daughter was serving me – because I had served her. 


Serving is right and contagious when done with an acceptable heart motive.  We are never more like our Father than when we are serving others in His name.  Serve with joy and a smile! 


My Prayer for Today:


Lord, help me today to serve You by serving others.  I choose right now to serve them with joy and a smile on my face.  Let them see You in what I do and how I do it.  Amen.


Application Steps: 


Choose three people to serve in some way today.  At the end of the day, examine the results of that service in your heart as well as the hearts of the ones you served.


Reflection Points:


What does it really mean to “serve” others?


What is my response when others serve me?


What talents and/or abilities has God given me to use in service?


How can I develop and use those talents and abilities?


What are the personal rewards of serving God?



Power Verses:


Galatians 5:13 For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. (LB)


Matthew 20:26 Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must be your servant. (LB)


Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.  (NKJV)


1 Peter 4:10 Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others.  Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.  (NCV)


Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.  (NIV)



Additional Resources:


Seven Life Principles for Every Womanby Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes


Intimate Moments with God by Various Authors Including Sharon Jaynes


How to Live a Life of Victory
by Mary Southerland



Originally published Wednesday, 19 November 2003.