The Call To Serve

“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  – Mark 10:43-45

This one just feels backward, doesn’t it? I mean, nice guys finish last, right? A man’s house is his castle, isn’t it? Look out for number one. That’s what we’re told. Yet, the Lord of the universe came “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom…”

Imagine being a fly on the wall for the Last Supper. You know the story – Jesus washes the disciples’ feet before sharing the Passover meal with them. He calls out Judas and rebukes Peter in the Upper Room. Back up a little, though. Remember that these men have been with Jesus for three years. He’s been teaching them about loving and living, giving and forgiving, sacrificing and serving. And yet, within a few weeks prior to this night, his disciples were arguing about who was the greatest among them. Two of them even asked to be seated at Jesus’ right and left when He is established as king!

You can almost hear Jesus sigh as He thinks to Himself, They still don’t get it. The disciples are all seated at the table, wondering who forgot to get a servant to wash their feet. Jesus looks around at each of them. Not one of them volunteers to serve the others. The thought doesn’t even cross their minds. While this comes as no surprise to Jesus, I imagine He is, nevertheless, disappointed. So, Jesus stands up.

“…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:4-5)

A look of shock, almost horror, comes over each of the disciples as the “full extent” of Jesus’ love (John 13:1) begins to dawn on them.

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Burn Ships, Not Bridges

When Cortes reached the New World, he ordered his men to set fire to the ships that had brought them there. There would be no turning back. Cortes and his men would succeed or die trying.

While the stakes are not quite as high, I have recently had an opportunity to ‘burn the ships’ in my own life. I should probably back up a little to give this tale of adventure a proper setting. Fifteen years ago, my wife and I were doing college ministry. Fast forward a couple years and we had our first baby and were struggling to make ends meet. Another year later and I found myself back in a career I’d left to do ministry – retail banking. When the opportunity arose, through a friendly contact, to divert my career into workers’ compensation, I was happy to take it. It would be a means to an end, a stepping stone to finding my true calling, or so I thought.

Ten years passed. Life happened. We added three more awesome children. As an aside, I don’t know what I’d do if I had to look at the last fifteen years of my life and wonder where the years have gone with no answer but my broken career. One look at my wife and children and the regrets fade into the distant background.

I’ve been trying to discover my calling and create work I love for a while – tried an eBay store for a while, blogging, explored the life coaching option, etc. I had never lost a job in my life until the last 3 full time jobs I’ve had. The first company went out of business and the next two eliminated my position because there just wasn’t enough work to justify my position and they needed to save money. Having never felt called to workers’ comp./HR in the first place, I’m delighted to be free of that job. And, I am taking this opportunity to set fire to the ships, as it were. I’m done with the human resources career path I was on.

I was also tempted to burn the bridges I’ve built (sorry for the mixed metaphors), particularly with this last job. However, about 6 months ago I started producing a podcast (The Familyman Show) with Todd Wilson (www.familymanweb.com) and helping him with social media. My wife has a burgeoning photography business and I’m working on expanding my podcasting into a network (www.UnsocializedMedia.com – coming soon) focused on the homeschool market. I had a goal to transition to full-time self-employment this year anyway, so now I’m jumping in with both feet. And, while it is wise to commit oneself fully to an endeavor, even to the point of no return in some cases, it is foolhardy to destroy relationships and embarrass oneself in a moment’s rage at a former employer. See it as an opportunity to move on to the next adventure. I plan on being one of those people that says, six months after losing a job, that it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Question for you: Is something holding you back? Is there a situation in which you need to set fire to the ships?

When you do light the torch, be careful not to burn the bridges at the same time.

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Things We Leave Behind

“We can’t imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind.” – Michael Card

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I never wanted to be one of those guys who couldn’t leave high school. You know the ones I mean – the guys who graduated, but keep hangin’ around trying to relive the glory days. You see some of the same guys in college. It’s easy to get stuck in a phase of life, especially one that holds fond memories.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed a similar, but more frightening, trend in people that get stuck in lousy jobs, destructive relationships, and mediocre patterns of living. Why do they get stuck? Because it’s comfortable.

“These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.” – Red, Shawshank Redemption

Huh? That’s right, because it’s comfortable. They get used to what they know. Like the Shawshank prisoners, they become “institutionalized.” I recently left a situation that could easily have become an “institutional” one. One of the reasons I left was because I wanted to experience freedom. I wanted to avoid the comfort that becomes complacency and leads to slavery.

“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key.” – from “Already Gone” by the Eagles (Tempchin/Strandlund)

Honestly, I’d like to write a long blog post, full of wisdom beyond my years, but frankly, the solution many times is as simple as the lyric from “Already Gone” (above) – we just have to unlock the chains that bind us. Sadly, we often choose to forge our own chains. Why?

Because it’s comfortable. Isn’t it time to get a little uncomfortable?

 

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Yearning

“And closely akin to the visions… was the call still sounding in the depths of the forest. It filled him with a great unrest and strange desires. It caused him to feel a vague, sweet gladness, and he was aware of wild yearnings and stirrings for he knew not what.”   – Jack London, The Call of the Wild

When was the last time you felt the call? Do you remember? Are you like a lot of men who can remember something like this in boyhood, when adventure seemed to lurk around every tree in the woods? Like the Pevensies in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, longing for the magical land where they are kings and queens, do you sometimes feel “aware of wild yearnings and stirrings,” even if you don’t know what for?

I feel this perhaps most strongly when I am at the sea. I recently returned from a vacation at the beach. I always feel like I’m at my home away from home when I’m at the ocean. When I have to leave, I feel a small sense of loss. I long to go back and yet, when I’m there, the call doesn’t dissipate. If anything, it grows stronger. I’m forced to wonder if this desire points to something larger, and far more important, than vacation or adventure.

“If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Could it be that this call or yearning, or whatever we shall label it, is evidence of a home we have not yet seen? Our true home where we are children of the King and where we are kings and queens ourselves? If that’s the case, then what happens when we lose the ability to feel this yearning or to hear the call? Some people spend lots of energy trying to silence the call. Some spend lots of money attempting to numb the yearnings. Don’t give in to that. We need to feel this longing for home. It is our destiny. We need to remember that we were made for more than this life has to offer and that we will receive it if we will follow the one who leads us home.

Game on.

This is an excerpt from the ebook, The Call Of Men.

Game on. (from a blog post I wrote on March 24, 2011)

This morning, while I was walking and praying, I was reminded of the movie
Miracle, the story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team. If you’ve seen the
movie, you’ll remember the scene when the Assistant Coach is talking with Head Coach Herb Brooks about the lineup for the team, specifically the goalies. After Brooks clarifies that Jim Craig will be the main goalie, the Assistant Coach says, “People I talk to say Craig’s game has been off since his mom died. Brooks replies, “They ever see him when his game is on?”

While I was walking and praying I got a picture of a group of angels in heaven talking amongst themselves with God nearby. They were looking down at me and one of them says to God, “Why do we have Scott on the team? His game‘s been off for years.”

God replied, “Have you ever seen him when his game is on?”

Just to clarify, to the best of my understanding, this was not a true “vision” from God in the miraculous sense, just a scene in my mind while I was praying and walking around the lake at the park near my house. It‘s definitely how I feel
though. I feel like there’s a champion in me somewhere that has been dormant
for years. I’m aching to come alive again, perhaps fully for the first time. I
wonder how many of us here need to hear God say the same thing.

ANGEL: Why is he on the team, God? His game‘s been off for years.
GOD: Have you ever seen him when his game is on?

The game is on. There are no do-overs in life. You’re either in this to win or you’re just taking up space.

Run in such a way as to win the prize. – 1 Corinthians 9:24b