By Sondra Rodriguez, Page Editor
ACU forces us to serve. It gets us into the community a few times, gives us a comfortable glimpse of poverty and provides us enough time to snap a few pictures of ourselves laughing and hugging the impoverished. Unfortunately and inevitably, the beginning of the distortion of a heart of service begins with a grade.
Conditional service evolves. We have the desire to serve, but we have a greater desire to let people know we are serving. Maybe our service is not necessary for a class anymore, but everyone is watching now. We want everyone to know we played tag with a group of impoverished children on the other side of town, and we want everyone to know we take precious time out of our day to bless an old soul across town with some goodies. But we don’t want people to know we want them to know.
So we make it into something social. We organize a concert and make T-shirts to raise money for a cause, but end up spending more organizing the event than was raised at the event. We start to believe we can’t help anyone unless we have enough money to give because, after all, a check in the mail is the most personal form of service.
Consider non-profit organizations devoted to building structures that will enhance the lives of peoples across the globe. Consider the “save a child with one click” groups on Facebook. The intent for both, and all organizations of this nature, is service. But, how complicated are we making service by inserting hundreds of middlemen when we could just walk outside and humble ourselves directly to the needs of others? Of course, we’d get less publicity if we all did this.
From here, there is a danger service may turn into a stepping stone to good, Christian publicity and reputations – something that is about us. It’s something we want people to see, something we want to do loudly.
But Christ does not tell us to be loud or boastful. On the contrary, he tells us to “not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3).
Try not talking about your service. Try quietly going to a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter or any other place in need and just serve. Spend a day existing to help others. Use yourself instead of money or materials. Don’t take pictures of yourself with the poor souls whose lives you’ve saved and plaster them all over Facebook. Avoid turning service into an event and decline the T-shirt. Don’t document it on an application for graduate school and don’t try to impress the world with how much you’ve helped the unfortunate ones.
That’s called pride, not service. Learn the difference.