The beauty about serving others is that it takes the stress of the “what” needs to be done, and places it on “who” needs us to be present.
The other day as my neighbors were hanging up their Christmas lights and I was still sipping my pumpkin spice latte, it hit me – I have so much to do! In an instant that all too familiar heat wave washed over me and my blissful moment of taking in the crisp cool air turned into a heap of stress that landed directly on my shoulders.
Next thing you know, after trying to force my shoulders down and plunging into another sip of that delicious goodness to relieve my stress, I glanced up to see my youngest running over asking our neighbor how she could help. Well…that changed the posture of my heart rather quickly. Because in all honesty, my thought process was to march right back inside and coax my husband to climb in the attic with me to get down all our decorations too.
I must admit that I simply love this time of year. The lights, the festivities, the cheer, and the merriment. All of it is just so magical and enchanting! However, if I am not careful, the excitement can so easily turn into a sense of overwhelm and capture my thoughts, shifting my focus off the needs of others. Thankfully, my daughter’s quick reaction to being of service jolted me out of my own selfish needs for a moment.
Friend, as we head into another simply sweet time of year that calls us to serve and love others, will you join me in making room by replacing the “me” mentality with a “we” state of mind? The beauty about serving others is that it takes the stress of the “what” needs to be done, and places it on “who” needs us to be present. Whether you have an elderly neighbor who needs help stringing up lights, a friend who is wading through grief, or see a need in your community, when we shift our focus, and place it on who we can humbly serve, we welcome the precious gift of love this holiday season.
The truth is that it doesn’t take much, just an open mind and a willing heart. So, let’s get to it and unpack some ways we can serve others this holiday season and delight in His goodness (Psalm 37:3-5)!
Serve in Your Home
One of the simplest ways to serve is by starting in your own home. Yes, that means serving those precious people who live within the walls of your humble abode. While we can easily tend to everyone’s needs as a mom, we can often forget the intentionality and meaning behind it. It’s as if servanthood within our homes has become a lost art form as we have become grossly consumed in our own demands, or maybe even a bit jaded or frustrated when our efforts seem futile.
Friend, can I be real? Serving our families isn’t always so easy, especially around the holidays when we are already tempted to “do all the things,” long for a little appreciation, and would like to be met with an itty-bitty dose of reciprocal love. I get it. But before your inner servant heart growls in frustration, and you are ready to make a meal and take it down the street to a friend who will actually say, “Thank you” and wants to watch that cheesy Christmas chick flick, pause, and take a deep breath.
Serving our family is often so much harder than serving other people. It’s true! That’s because serving the ones we love unfortunately comes with a bunch of emotional strings attached. Even still…try it anyway. The truth is serving your family won’t always be met with a warm welcome. Do it anyway. Serving your people won’t always feel good. Do it anyway. Serving your spouse or children may often (and most likely) go unnoticed. Do it anyway. The reason is that serving our families isn’t about what we are doing for them, but recognizing what Christ has done for us. It’s knowing that this ministry of motherhood is challenging, but in humble service, we are indeed serving our Lord (1 Peter 4:8, Proverbs 24:3, Philippians 2:14). And, that is worth rejoicing!
Here's the thing… our service doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated. It’s often given in our simple daily gestures that bring joy, from a tender smile to spending time listening to them share a story. It can also be found in offering a friendly hug, folding and putting away their laundry, or cooking up a favorite family meal. So, start by simply serving your people and allow God to do a great work in your heart this holiday season.
Serve in Your Church
The holidays can spur on a wide range of emotions for us all. Oftentimes there are people within our own faith-based communities and congregations who are silently struggling or hurting. We can step out in faith and seek God’s discernment and wisdom, allowing Him to guide us on how to love His people. I believe God often does this in subtle ways. Have you ever had someone suddenly come to mind or pop up in your social media feed and you felt compelled to pray for them? That is God at work. Maybe you notice a family in need, or you get asked to host, help, or volunteer at a holiday celebration at church. Yep, it’s God at work. Let God stir in your heart and be willing and ready to answer the call to serve.
Last year, we reluctantly hosted a teen fellowship night in our backyard. Nearly 120 kids flooded into our home for fellowship, hot cocoa, and cookies. At first, I wasn’t really excited about hosting or doing much of anything as grief had consumed my holiday. Yet, my heart just about melted when they all started singing Christmas carols. God's goodness was so big at that moment. Not to mention the endless hugs, sweet stories, and testimonies were absolutely touching. But what really made that evening all the more special was seeing how God was moving in the lives of the teens who needed Him most, as several came to profess their faith that evening!
As our churches and places of fellowship begin earnestly looking for those to volunteer and help organize outreach events or pray for those in need, may we heed the call and step in wherever we can and feel led. When we allow God to minister to our hearts, He will give us the means and the beautiful gift to minister to others as well.
Serve in Your Community
As we look for more ways to serve that go beyond the walls of our homes and churches, you may feel led to share God’s love in your neighborhood or community. However, I do understand how daunting that can feel, especially when there are so many needs, and you may not really be sure where to begin.
So simply start small. Begin with asking the question of who needs help in your local area. Do you know of a widow or elderly neighbor who could use your assistance in decorating or shoveling snow? Maybe you have a co-worker who is struggling due to a family issue or a recent divorce. Many times, this opens the doors to extend prayers and may even develop a beautiful relationship to blossom and bloom as well.
If you are looking for something to do as a family, check out some local organizations, as many are seeking more help during the holidays, and allow children to get involved. However, be sure to check out their procedures and rules before you sign up as some have safety measures in place, especially when it pertains to children. And, if you are still searching for some ways to serve, be sure to try some of the items listed below:
-Make and deliver cards to a retirement home or hospital.
-Deliver cookies to your local fire or police department.
-Send cards to military personnel overseas.
-Create a shoebox with Operation Christmas Child.
-Go Christmas caroling around the neighborhood and spread cheer.
-Adopt a family in need and drop off food and toys.
-Leave a treat in the mailbox for your mail carrier.
-Help out at an animal shelter or rescue center.
Whether you give financial support, donate toys, serve food, or give of your time, seek God’s discernment on how to approach each and every ministry with care. Keep in mind that just being of good cheer, placing a smile on your face, and being friendly are always simply sweet ways to bless others and bring in the Christmas spirit. So be holly, jolly, and merry, as it’s truly contagious!
Photo Credit: ©Getty-DGLimages
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.