Posts Tagged ‘service’
By Virginia Kremer
WHILE waiting for something to finish cooking, my eyes absently came to rest on my kitchen timer. The last time I had really looked at it, it was shiny new. That was 30 years ago! I picked it up thinking how old and worn it was. Its imitation wood sides were scratched and there were a couple of marks left in haste by buttered fingers. Nicks on the plastic rim were the results of falls, and its face had become cloudy. As I turned it over, the decorative gold-coloured cap in the middle slipped off as usual, reminding me that although I had planned many times to glue it back in place, once the timer’s work was done, I had not thought of it again. Who thinks about an old kitchen timer as long as it works? And why not replace it by a new, modern version?
Looking at it in amazement and wondering where the time had gone since I’d received it as a wedding gift, I thought of the person who had given it to me: Anna. Tears came to my eyes. I had never really mourned her death a few years ago. Her passing away had happened when I, myself, was facing the desperate situation of my husband’s serious illness.
I pictured her jolly, smiling face, twinkling eyes, ruddy cheeks, and grey hair, once black and curly, pulled back in a bun. Anna was from a large farming family of Mennonites in Alsace. She had wanted to play the saxophone as a young person, but her very strict father considered that a sin. She had rebelled and gone out into the “world” but early on realized that without God, life had no meaning. She came back to the faith of her fathers and opened her heart to the love of God and to salvation in His Son Jesus Christ. Her life was turned around and she became an ardent witness to His grace and saving power. Her great desire was to serve Him as a missionary all the days of her life and she made known her calling to the elders of her church. Anna was a farm girl with minimum schooling and no qualifications. She was sent to work in the home of a prominent Christian family whose vocation was to send out missionaries. There, she was to clean and cook, and in other words, be their servant. She had her little room up under the eaves on the third floor and was on call twenty-four hours a day!
A call frustrated?
She never made it to the mission field. She spent her life up to her retirement doing what she did best: cooking, cleaning and working in the garden. There may have been times when she was a little frustrated; she had had such a clear calling. But wherever Anna went, be it in a shop or at the market or on the train or talking to someone at the door, everyone remarked her beaming face and cheery presence. She always spoke a word for the Lord. She had the gift of evangelism. Even the most defiant or disinterested could not resist her words of wisdom and truth. Not only did she believe, but she also put what she believed in practice. The children in the Sunday School loved to hear her tell Bible stories and several generations called her “Aunt Anna”. Some of them went on to serve the Lord.
Taken for granted
When I was in the home where Anna served, she was such a joy and encouragement to me. Somehow, she made life easier, smoothed out the rough places and made me feel at home. Yet, Anna was only a servant. Everyone took her for granted. She was always there. No one seemed to notice that the years were passing, that time and work were taking their toll. Who cares about an old servant? When she can’t work anymore, she will be replaced.
Faithful and fruitful
Anna has gone home to be with the Lord she loved and served so faithfully. She didn’t get to be a missionary and go to a foreign field as she had dreamed, but she didn’t let that stop her from being a true witness to Christ where she was. Anna served a number of God’s servants. Some of them may not have even taken much notice of her, but it wouldn’t surprise me that when we all stand before God’s throne and the rewards are passed out, Anna might just be up in the front row among the most faithful!
Now when I pick up my timer, I always think of Anna, and thankfully remember that God is not like us. He doesn’t use people and then replace them when they are old or no longer physically useful. He sees and knows the hidden motives of the heart. He does not stop at the outward appearance, the superficial spirituality, the ‘importance’ of the person in men’s eyes, the apparent usefulness or success or education. He looks at the heart, the love there for Him and for others, the humble service where there is no place for self-glory.
I’ve learned so much from my old kitchen timer and from Anna! ■
Virginia lives in France, where she worked for many years with her late husband, Etienne, as members of the Mission-Foi- Evangile.
This article was first printed in Life Indeed, November/December 2004
Since the working day forms the largest part of the waking day, anyone who wants to witness effectively has a full-time task. Let’s be practical, with some DOs and DON’Ts’ aimed to arouse your thoughts.
Three Basic Factors
1. Be punctual. If you are habitually late, you show an undisciplined life, either staying up too late at night or staying in bed too long in the morning.
2. Work conscientiously. Doing as little as possible and getting by is cheating.
3. Don’t pack up before time.
It is advisable to keep the Bible or text calendar out of sight if you are not toeing the line in these respects.
Attitude to Work and Colleagues
Do you ignore tasks which may involve extra time and trouble to complete? Do you shelve unpleasant work or, worse still, leave it to others? This conveys the impression that you have a grudge against your employer. Trustworthiness, down to the smallest details, should characterize the servant of God. Are you courteous to everyone, including those who are your juniors, as well as your seniors? Be impartial, to Christians and non-Christians alike. When your colleagues tell you about their weekend activities do not sound critical or adopt a ‘holier than thou’ attitude as you as you describe your own church commitments. Do you show a genuine personal interest in colleagues and their family so that they feel able to speak to you about their personal problems? It may be that a helping hand, a listening ear or just a cup of tea can be what is needed most. Evangelism means much more than simply inviting people to meetings. It starts by showing friendship, understanding and sympathy – in short, that someone cares
Living with your principles
The Christian will often be at odds with the views and behaviour in general society. Where Christian principles and truths are concerned, decide where you draw the line, and know why. Having done this, stick to your principles and do not waver. Take your stand for Christ and for what you are convinced is the truth, even if it makes you the ‘odd person out’, but be humble. Don’t invite persecution by being sanctimonious. If you feel that you have to refuse to take part in a raffle or gambling, why not give a donation to the genuine ‘good cause’. If you must say ‘No’, do it kindly.
Money and Promotion
Don’t eat your heart out after extra money or promotion. Show your colleagues that you serve a better Master than these – and that you can trust Him. Beware of becoming bitter if you are overlooked for promotion. If you are sure that there is no cause at all in your past work or conduct to warrant your being passed over, might it not be that God has some purpose you have yet to discern?
Guard against too much talking in the firm’s time. Watch those personal phone calls and keep them short. If a conversation develops on some spiritual theme, suggest, if possible, that it be continued over a cup of tea in the staff restaurant later on. Know when your leg is being pulled and pray for a sense of humour. Never be argumentative or always ready to strike back. A sharp tongue can blow your testimony sky high. It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. Watch that you don’t overdo meetings or Christian activities at night to such an extent that it affects your work or temper the next morning. Show a reasonable interest in local, national and international affairs, so that you can comment intelligently on them. A
Christian Must Witness
There is no division between the Christian as a witness and the Christian as a worker. To what, then, does the Christian witness? Certainly it must be to something that works in one’s own life, or there is no testimony! The Christian witnesses to a living, loving God who can be known personally; to an ever-present Christ, able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him. Christians should put godliness into everything they do. Everything they handle will become a channel through which Christ can reveal Himself, and their work will be the better for it. We will be failing miserably if our work is not better done because we are a Christian. We should be diligent, for a bad worker has never made a good witness and there is nothing in Scripture to excuse such an attitude.
Witnessing at work does not mean that always speaking or handing out leaflets. In the long run, a consistent life is the most effective way of encouraging the ungodly towards Christ. Generally speaking, a person does not witness by reciting verses of Scripture parrot-fashion. The Bible, to the person in the street, is largely an unknown book shrouded in doubt and mystery. It is as our colleagues see for themselves, undeniably, that what the Bible declares actually works out in our lives, that we shall become convincing witnesses. Let your life be a living commentary on the Word of God.
You may also be discouraged because you think you are the only Christian at your work place.. But remember, God requires you, where you are, as His representative. You may be the sole agent for Christ and HIS business in your place of work. You will not only need to be out and out for Christ, but, if you are to stand against the tide of indifference and temptation, there must be no half-heartedness. Such strength can come only through vital fellowship with the Lord. It need hardly be emphasized, therefore, that the life of a true witness must be saturated in prayer. You must pray not merely for yourself, that you may conduct yourself as a true Christian in your work, but also for your colleagues. The more you pray for them the more you will want to know them, and the more you know them the better you will pray for them. The business and industrial life of the nation could be greatly influenced if more Christians were filled with the spirit of prayer, and were channels for God in the workplace.
Adapted, with permission, from an article published in 2003 on the web site of Christians in Communications (The Post Office and Telecommunications Christian Association)
This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in FIRST! magazine March/April 2004
By Sam Gordon
A story about Oliver Cromwell illustrates what God wants us to do in the time that is remaining to us prior to the second coming of Jesus.
At the time, England was running out of silver for making coins. So Cromwell sent his men to the cathedrals to see if they could find any silver there.
They reported: “The only silver we could find is in the statues of the saints standing in the corners!” To which the crusty statesman replied: “Good! We’ll melt down the saints and put them into circulation!”
That’s where we all belong, in circulation! We don’t belong in a corner of some ancient or modern church building gathering dust. Our natural habitat is out there among people. We have a potentially life-changing message that is well worth sharing. We have a full blown mandate from heaven. We have a global mission not yet finished. We are the men and women to whom God is looking so that the great task of reaching a world without Jesus might progress with speed. �
This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in FIRST! magazine September/October 2008