If you are not familiar with the book, it basically identifies and explains 12 different disciplines of the Christian life. Those disciplines are broken down into three categories: Inward, Outward and Corporate. For the sake of anyone who hasn't read the book, I'll list each of the disciplines by category.
Inward: Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Study
Outward: Simplicity, Solitude, Submission, Service
Corporate: Confession, Worship, Guidance, Celebration
Dan and I have both read the book before, so we're not exactly doing a front-to-back reading this time. We chose to focus on prayer the first week, deciding that was a good area to focus on first as we began the challenge.
This week's focus is service, and since I call my blog Learning to Serve, it seemed appropriate to share with you some of my thoughts after reading the chapter.
It didn't take long for this chapter to hit home. In fact, in the third paragraph I highlighted this passage:
In some ways we would prefer to hear Jesus' call to deny father and mother,
houses and land for the sake of the gospel than his word to wash feet. Radical
self-denial give the feel of adventure. if we forsake all, we even have the
chance of glorious martyrdom. But in service we must experience the many little
deaths of going beyond ourselves. Service banishes us to the mundane, the
ordinary, the trivial.
That puts into words what most of us probably feel as the biggest barrier to becoming true servants. It's hard to swallow our pride and feel comfortable doing the mundane, ordinary, trivial tasks necessary to be of service to others. At least, I struggle with it.
Probably the most impactful section of this chapter was titled Service in the Marketplace. I started this blog because I had taken this new position as a graphic designer at my church and saw it as a behind-the-scenes form of ministry or service. That hiddenness has been one of the hardest things to deal with and move beyond in order to serve. Here's another sentence that I highlighted:
Hiddenness is a rebuke to the flesh and can deal a fatal blow to pride.
Maybe that's why it's so hard to deal with. Not getting any recognition or praise can be difficult to deal with, especially when you pour yourself into the service you are performing!
Listening was pointed out as a form of service. I never would have considered listening as an act of service, but the more I think about it, I tend to agree. Two quick passages from the book on listening:
To listen to others quiets and disciplines the mind to listen to God.
When we have grown dull in listening to God, we would do well to listen to
others in silence and see if we do not hear God through them.
One of the things Dan and I will do each week is discuss practical ways we can apply each chapter. For this week, I need to work on two specific things. First, I must force myself to stay humble when I hear comments like, "Wow, did you design that?" or "The newsletter looks great!" Second, I am going to work on listening silently. I don't need to be heard all the time, but I must listen if I am going to serve others.