Have you ever done something just because you loved doing it? No one having to twist your arm or laying a guilt trip on you? It just felt right and even more importantly, it was right. Sometimes it has to do with the concept of purpose; answering the question; why am I here? Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.
For the past 10 years I have been serving my Savior in the halls of Conestoga Elementary, Central Manor Elementary, Lampeter Elementary and many, many other schools. At first, I just saw it as a nice part time job, a place to make a little cash with a flexible schedule. It was exactly what I needed in my retirement years. But in the last couple of years, it has become more than that. I now see it as a ministry with needy people; a place where the Lord can use me to influence others for His Kingdom.
The other day I was standing on the playground at Lampeter Elementary speaking with one of the teachers. She proceeded to ask me why I substitute, and this is what I said, “Because I love the kids. I love spending time with them, listening to them, and helping them with all kinds of situations”. (My favorite is when they come up and ask me if I would tie their shoes). I told her I would do this job whether they paid me or not! (That last line is just between you and me….we don’t want to get my wife upset for nothing).
There is another place that I love to serve: standing in front of a room full of men and women who have come with a single purpose, to learn more about the Word of God and to grow as believers. Teaching Bible classes is a job that no one has had to twist my arm to get me to do. They did not have to guilt me, and they certainly didn’t have to pay me. For many years it was part of my job. It was what I was expected to do as a pastor. Now it’s what I WANT to do!
As you begin your day and you think of ways that you can serve Christ, ask this question: Why? Why am I doing this? Is this something that I do because I’m expected to? Is it something that I’m good at, therefore I ought to do it? Each of these are valid reasons, but is that enough? Again, Paul says in Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
So, whether we are serving others, or serving kids in the classroom, or teaching a Bible class, we need to always remember, it’s not us we are serving, but rather Him. What changed my thinking about the job as a substitute was the why question. What was my purpose for being there? Was it to get a paycheck? Was it to give me some purpose in life? No, it was to reach boys and girls and staff with the gospel of Christ. I need to be patient, humble and loving with the people I work with. I need to remember that God is at work in the lives of men and women, and He will bring them to salvation in His time. I am not always the most patient person (okay, I’m never the most patient person) but I am learning to wait on God and to allow Him to work. Sometimes it is through a lengthy discussion with a person, sometimes it’s just by tying a kid’s shoe! Either way, He gets the glory!