Saturday before last was SERVE Day for Church of the Highlands. Tens of thousands donned their red SERVE shirts and went out all across the state of Alabama serving in their communities. My kids and I were among them.
They would be serving with my mom, the residents of The Village of Cook Springs, by bringing them various goodies and singing to them. I would be having a kid-free day to serve alongside the amazing ladies in my small group, organizing school supplies, then assisting single moms in shopping and praying with them … or so I thought.
For weeks the Breath on Paper small group had been discussing our role in the serve project. I jumped on the chance to organize and set up the donated school supplies! And I was looking so forward to getting to love on the moms and having the opportunity to pray with them.
I showed up that morning ready to get my serve on! The pavilion was buzzing with a whole crew of people doing various jobs in preparation for the moms that would be there in the next hour or so. And there were more people just down the hill setting up an area to entertain the kids.
We gathered as a group for a short time of devotion and prayer. They made a few announcements, including where to go if you didn’t have an assignment yet. Just then, the leader of the children’s team made one last announcement. “Excuse me, everyone! We have a face-painting station in the kids’ area. Is there anyone here that’s remotely decent at painting that can serve there?”
So you know that still, small voice inside you, also known as the Holy Spirit? Yeah, He immediately prompted me to volunteer for that serve job. I wasn’t surprised, given that, although I’m definitely no Van Gogh, I do know my way around a paintbrush. I’d love to say that my spirit was just as quick to respond to the prompting, but in truth, I hesitated. That’s not where I wanted to serve. I wanted to be hands on with the mamas. “Come on, God. That’s where I want to be.”
I looked around for other volunteers. “Anybody?” came the leader’s request again. No one raised their hand.
The prompting on my heart still there, I raised mine and said, “I can paint.” I could see the relief on her face as I stepped forward to follow her to the table where everything was set up. On the way down the hill I was able to recruit another to join me, given the amount of kids we were expecting. It wasn’t long before a line of excited children were waiting to have their faces painted. Their requests weren’t simple either. Just about every one of them wanted a mask of some sort that took at least ten minutes to paint. One eight-year-old asked, after I’d already painted a large butterfly mask on her face, “You’re going to do details, right?” 😳 The butterfly mask was the favorite and top request of all the girls.
As I sat painting the second face, I found myself still wishing I could be serving in the capacity I’d planned on. That’s when the Holy Spirit began dealing with me.
“You came to serve. Are you here to serve for Me or for you? These kids need to be served too, and in doing so, you’re allowing their mamas to be served well. I’ve equipped you to serve here. You have what they need.”
Again, He asked me, “So who are you serving for? Me or you?”
I’m honestly a bit embarrassed to admit all this, but this was an eye-opener. A true servant’s heart isn’t about serving where we want to. Anyone can do that. It’s about serving where we’re needed. A true servant’s heart serves in all ways without complaining, to the best of their ability, as if they’re doing it for the Lord.
My attitude changed upon hearing His words. I spent the next few hours enjoying my serve assignment and talking with each child as I painted their face. Getting a glimpse of their little personalities, which got me pondering on who they’ll grow to be and what they’ll one day do for the Kingdom. These kids are the future and how we serve them is the example they have to follow. I was called to be an example to them.
Don’t you just love how God works? Gentle conviction to redirect the human heart from focusing on ourselves to focusing on Him.
Serving ain’t about you. It’s about Him. Who are you serving for?
Heather Whidden loves Jesus, is married to her best friend and is mother of 3 blessings. She is a professional photographer and has a heart for ministry. She loves spending time with her family and friends, writing, reading, and traveling. Time and people is what she values most. You can read more about her here.