Thursday, April 14, 2011

Soap Suds Servanthood

“I washed MY dish,” was her reply to my asking if the lunch dishes were taken care of.
She being the one with the dish-washing chore who somehow thinks lunch dishes are an exception…
“Well, if that pan doesn’t soak, its gonna be a bear to wash later then. That’s your job.”
“She dirtied it- she washes it.” The she being her sister.
I bite back my frustration. Hard. Do I really want to go there?
No. So I don’t.
Instead I go to the sink and begin doing dishes. I stand there and I think how this is a small thing and yet a big thing. This unwillingness to do more than the bare minimum—unwillingness to go the extra mile in such a small way to take care of those around you.
The sink bubbles grow and so does my disappointment. I think bigger and broader and beyond a dirty dish in the sink.
Hospitality begins at home. We practice who we are with others, how we treat others in our own home. Why do we continually treat our friends and acquaintances better than our own families? Why do we strive to give others outside our home walls the best of ourselves and piecemeal the leftovers to our family? I hurt as I scrub some stubborn stuck on goo off a plate. I ache to make them see differently. How do I help them learn this lesson now that took me almost 30 years to finally see?
A friend was once describing his mother and mother-in-law to me and said these words, “My mom will serve the meal taking the best piece of meat for herself and leaving the rest to us. My mother-in-law will take the smallest, toughest pieces of meat and make sure we get the biggest, juiciest ones.” He said this off-handedly during a conversation at least two years ago-- but it has stuck with me. Stuck to me.
Selfishness vs. Selflessness. Where do I fit in the midst of that statement? I only really started to grasp the concept of giving my best where my head rests in the last ten years… oh, how I long for my children to learn this servant-living sooner than I.
I rinse a bowl and stare out the window and think—for me, it wasn’t until I began to really servant-live in my very own home that I grasped the deeper concepts of servanthood…. It wasn’t until practicing it in my own home and forming the habits of it that I began to push myself out of my comfort zones into giving-more-aware beyond these walls.  I was a shallow servant before- giving when it suited me; when I felt like it, when it made me look good, when I gained more in the giving…
How very shallow and self-serving. I was so very wrong. I was looking to what benefited me in the short term completely blind to the benefits of long term.
In stepping back, checking myself and serving my family in small and large ways, I’ve learned to form habits that build me up and help me to be quicker to respond to the needs of others outside my home- quicker to give of myself because I’ve been practicing. Just like a runner won’t run faster without practicing running- I will miss seeing and responding to the opportunities to serve if I am not practicing serving at home.
This is what I want for them, my children—to be practicing it at home so they will see and respond to the opportunities elsewhere.
The dishes are almost done. I dump the water as I dump my heart completely in His hands. The sun shines through the window; I can feel its warmth. I grip the edge of the sink hard and bow my head...
Father, help me to do this. Help me to teach them to see way beyond themselves. Help me Jesus live out this servanthood to them—help me to put my hands to work in tandem with my heart so that they might see and do likewise. Open our eyes to the opportunities and create in each of us a desire to serve each other right here in this home. Remind me Jesus when I fold laundry, break up squabbles, make beds, teach hard lessons, cook meals and clean up a thousand messes a day that what I am doing is a beautiful priceless thing—a daily offering of me… acts of worship to you. Help my children to see You shining out of me. Help them to want to do the same. Lord, help me do the hard things, the things that make me uncomfortable so that I might bring comfort to others. I give you permission to push me to my limits and ask you to guide me in the right way to pushing my children to theirs.


  1. I LOVE this! You speak truth. Our kids have a long way to go but so do we. I'll be praying this for myself and my girls too! Thank you.

  2. This is a beatiful post,how many times I wonder have we all shared your feelings of frustraction! I think you are certainly on the right track. Blessings jane



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