Serving in Silence
by Wendy Pope
I used to go to church with a man who, from what I could tell, seemed to have mastered many items on the “God says” side of the list. From what I knew of him, he never appeared to be drowning in the current of the world. He always smiled and had kind things to say to everyone. I knew I liked him from the first hello, and when I discovered who he really was, I liked him even more.
Every Sunday morning, my husband and I would usher our children to their respective classes before going to our Sunday school group. An hour later we’d collect our kids and head to the main sanctuary to sit in our regular balcony pew for the worship service. Each week I’d notice the little yellow pencils, sharpened with perfect points, tucked into the back of the pew in front of us to use for taking notes.
I never thought much about the perfectly sharpened pencils until I happened to be at the church office one morning. A dapper, older gentleman brushed by with a box of pencils in one hand and a sharpener in the other. With a bent brow, I asked someone, “Is he the one who sharpens the pew pencils each week?” My guess was confirmed.
Before the next church service, this man would quietly and faithfully serve our congregation with few taking notice of his act. And the beauty in it all? He didn’t want anyone to notice. He didn’t want recognition, a pat on the back, or even a thank-you. It was his simple way of serving the Lord and investing in eternity. When we serve in secret, God gives us the greatest fulfillment—the realization that serving others brings joy, and this joy pleases Jesus. The one who serves unnoticed is the one who loves God more than the praise of others.
Sharpening pencils for no recognition or pay is just one example of how not to copy the world. There are endless ways to be less like the world and more like Jesus—all of which, if we invest in them, will turn our eyes to God and increase our obsession with Him.
Serving in silence is a lost act in our society today. We live in a selfie, not selfless world. Look at me. Notice me. Thank me. In the season of giving and sharing, what better lesson to teach our children than to share and give rather than keep and receive. Generous giving is a beautiful activity for every family to enjoy together. After all, the one who serves unnoticed is the one who loves God more than the praise of others. What if every home decided to serve and love? Oh, how different the world would be!
P.S. Perhaps you may be asking, where do I start? Here are a few ideas.
Become a regular volunteer in the food pantry in your community.
Read a book or watch an educational program instead of crass, late-night shows.
Donate the money you were going to spend on another pair of shoes to a relief organization that provides shoes to children in third-world countries.
Bless someone by giving up the parking space closest to the door.
Use funds set aside for a movie to purchase a gift card for a single mother.
Wendy Pope is the author of Yes, No and Maybe: Living with the God of Immeasurably More, Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans and the Wait and See Participant’s Guide: A Six-Session Study on Waiting Well. She has led thousands of women through her Read Thru the Word (RTW) study of the One Year Chronological Bible.
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