A tale of convicts and candy. SWORD - PART 2
Yesterday, I wrote about the concept of SWORD. It’s a simple idea that stands for Serve, Worship, Order, Rest and Dance. In the next few days I will detail what they mean and how I intend to add them to my day in the hope that I can slowly reclaim both my time and energy.
My goal is to rescue two weeks of my life from the world. By taking small steps that add up (1 hour a day x 365 = 15 days) when completed over a year, I plan to become who I was always meant to be. But along the way, I have to learn to Serve.
To be honest, Serve is my least favorite of the five actions I intend to complete each day. It’s not a sexy word and on the surface not an idea that feels that exciting. But, I’ve recently learned three things that have dramatically changed the way I look at what it means to Serve:
1. Small is big
I think that we’ve complicated the concept of service. I think that when we imagine service we believe it means taking a mission trip to Africa or feeding the homeless or doing something else that is big and bold. Those things are good, they have their place in the idea of what it means to Serve, but I think we’ve lost sight of the small things. I was given a reminder when I watched a program about jail. In the show, a gang deep, tattooed, dangerous looking convict stood hard against the wall. When they put the camera on him, he began to unravel a tale about why he liked this particular jail. Here is a paraphrase of what he said:
“This place is special. I mean, the first week I was here someone gave me a piece of candy. People don’t do that. People don’t just give you candy and that meant a lot to me.”
A piece of candy from a stranger in jail was all it took for that convict to be impacted. That’s service. Big things, small things and all the things in between. Don’t confine your acts of service to the two weeks you go to Bolivia for a mission trip. Do small things in your own world in your own way. Find ways to share candy.
2. Stay close to the father
My favorite story of what it means to Serve is found in the prodigal son story. In the passages in Luke 15 we see such a beautiful reflection of service from the servants. Although they are not main characters, they do teach us something. One thing they reveal is that to serve, you must be close to God. You see this when the father runs to the son. It says that “while he was still a long way off” he ran to him. After a quick conversation with his son, he told the servants to prepare the feast. Did you ever stop to think about where the servants were when the father saw the son on the road? I think they were right next to him, watching the road too, engaged in what was important to the father. How else would they have been by his side to receive his instructions? I think that’s a big part of serving. You have to know what the father is doing, be where he is.
3. Throw a party
The other thing that the servants reveal about what it means to serve is how they do it. They don’t canvas the neighborhood raising money for a cause or write letters to change legislation. They throw a party. A big, wild party for the son. That was their act of service. That moment of laughter and love and happiness was how they served. 100% of the service moments in that story involve the party. So maybe service doesn’t have to be boring. Maybe it can be fun and exciting and big and happy.
There are a million great examples of what it means to serve in the Bible. I’ve barely scrapped the surface and I hope that this post felt really thin, because it was. I hope you come up with your own list of ways you can serve. Things you can do to show the people in your orbit that they’re important. That’s really what service boils down to I think. Showing people that what they think is important, is important to you. You see this when Christ would help the disciples fish. Sure, he was performing a miracle most of the time but he was also letting them know that if fishing was a big part of their lives, he would make it a big part of his too.
So tomorrow when you come in contact with someone, ask them what matters most to them and then help them take one step closer to it. Chances are you’ll find that the single step you help them with tends to help you along your way too.