Last Thursday I was asked to help a family move into their new apartment. My pastor told me I’d make a few bucks doing it, so I figured why not? I’m only taking one class and I don’t have a job, so there’s a ton of free time on my minds. Might as well do something useful especially if I can get paid for it. So, putting down the book I’ve been reading, I threw on some workout clothes and drove over to where the family was moving to. I had called one of the family members, the dad, and he asked me to bring extra hands if I could find anybody, so on the way I picked up another friend I knew had just as much free time as I did and we drove to their apartment.
My friend and I were both under the impression that there’d be others with us helping to move like an army of ants, except bigger. But when we pulled up near their yellow Penske truck, we realized we were going to be the only helpers. I chugged the last of my Gatorade and got out of my car.
The family we helped is a nice family. Very out-going and friendly, they made it easy to just jump in and start working. Mattresses, bookcases, end tables, coffee tables, and even a dining-room table were the first things my friend and I moved in. About midway through the truck, we had to move a very heavy desk, which took about fifteen minutes to get the thing upstairs to the first floor of the apartment and then upstairs again to their office. When we got back to the truck, my friend whispered something to me.
“Why are we the only ones working?”
Even though he asked the question, I was thinking it also. The two volunteers at this apartment were the only ones moving anything above twenty pounds, which left us in a sort of complaining mood. We continued working until we were about 7/8 of the way through the truck. At that point we took a short break on their porch and chatted with them awhile. In that 5-minute conversation, we found out something that made us a little guilty for complaining. This family had been through several very bad car accidents that made it not impossible, but extremely difficult and painful for them to move heavy objects. We had merely assumed that they had no health issues, but as we found out, their injuries made it difficult to even walk around their apartment. It was in that moment on their porch that I realized something; that when you’re helping someone out, it’s best to just shut up and serve.
If it had been me in their shoes, I think I would have felt pretty humiliated by the fact that I needed someone else to move my stuff. Like many people in America, I don’t really like being catered to. When someone cooks up some food and asks if I want some, I feel kind of bad because I didn’t do anything to help cook. The same feeling happens when I’m offered even a beverage. It just doesn’t feel that great to me. And if I were in this family’s shoes and heard the question that my friend had asked, I would feel even worse.
I think this is a very important element in servitude: Not complaining about the work. And it’s not to say that we should just keep our mouths shut while helping someone out, but rather to go a step further and desire to help someone out. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is seen as having compassion on the people and it’s that compassion that compels Him to help them. If we are to truly live for Christ, then perhaps our hearts should change towards serving. I know mine needs to.
We never got paid for helping this family move and to be honest, I don’t really care. Hearing tidbits of this family’s story and seeing how the mother fought back tears when talking about what God has done for her, I had all the payment I needed. Paul wrote to the Philippians that even if he was only a drink offering, it’d be worth the work effort he put forth. It’s an attitude towards serving God and serving the church that I haven’t been very good at having. Too often I’m compelled to ask the question my friend asked, “Why am I the only one working?” Instead I think my question should be, “Why isn’t there more for me to do?”
Living for Christ demands more than just a good work ethic; it demands a desire to generously serve someone else, to build someone else up with words of encouragement and kind deeds – not for the pride of having done good deeds, but for the purpose of spreading the joy of Christ. Our work isn’t to build great résumés for ourselves, but to reveal the great résumé of God. Even if it means being one of the two only workers in helping someone move. Even if it means living your entire life in building others up while never receiving any credit for it. Even if it means merely being a drink offering poured out for the betterment of someone else. It’s not our calling to complain; it’s our calling to shut up and serve, to be a kingdom unlike any of the world’s kingdoms.