Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Have you ever noticed that everybody loves to be served, but very few love to serve. It’s even true of those who serve for a living, like waiters and waitresses. There have been very few waiters and waitresses that I thought really deserved a tip. I tip because I feel obligated to.
And the reason I feel obligated to tip is because a person who was a waitress for a living once told me that Christians are the worst tippers in the world. She said she hated Sunday nights when the church groups came into the restaurant because they were the worst tippers. So, from then on I decided to tip above and beyond even if the service was bad.
Still, when I run across great service I go above, above and beyond. When we were on vacation last summer, we were rolling through Mississippi on backroads and we could not find a place to eat. I think it was Sunday evening and every place was closed.
We came open this one cafe where it looked like everyone in town had gone to eat. Inside was a lone waitress. “Heaven Is For Real” was playing on the television screen in the background. The waitress, small baby slung on her back, came to take her order.
I mentioned the movie playing. She said it was her favorite and always made her cry. She recommended the special and warned us of the extra spicy flavor of the chili, which only made my husband want it more. She took time to talk and take our order despite the busyness of the day.
As she took our order I asked her if this was her restaurant, She said it was her’s and her husband’s. He was in the back cooking. I asked how it was going. She said, “It’s hard work, but I just love serving people good food and having a warm and caring atmosphere where they can eat a peaceful meal.”
Tears Wash the Soul
She added that some folk come every day to eat because they live alone. “It’s like their second home and I love that ,” she said with a tear in her eye. Brushing the tear away, she added, “Don’t mind me. I cry all the time.”
“Tears wash the soul,” I said. “I have a feeling yours is really clean.”
She blushed and went to give her husband our order.
I noticed she took time with everyone. Serving people was definitely one of her gifts. She did it with a natural grace that was her nature. Her love for people overflowed and everyone blossomed as she stopped to chat.
The baby never cried. The atmosphere was a cleansing breath of fresh air in the midst of a long drive home. The food was superb country cooking and I was able to get my grilled chicken salad with strawberries, pecans and red onions. This one also had boiled egg and other veggies added. It was one of the best salads I’ve ever had. And I eat salad a lot.
The Well-Deserved Tip
We went to pay and left her a tip equivalent to the price of the meal. She stared at the amount, looked up as if to protest. I said, “Thank you for a great meal, great service and wonderful atmosphere.” She said thank you and we left.
As we got in the car, my husband said, “We should have given her more.”
I doubt she had a college degree. I doubt she worried about noun and verb agreement. All she had was a heart full of grace and soul generated by love.
In reality that’s all any of us need to share the love of Christ with another person. She didn’t mention the name of Jesus. She didn’t have to.
His love spilled over on to every person who entered the door.
My pastor, Jeremy Risner, talked about loving by serving today. He explained how serving encourages others to serve. “When you give your life in service, it motivates others to serve,” he said.
He used Dr. King as an example. “He knew there were threats against his life, but he kept going. And he gave his life. When you spend your life on behalf of others, it inspires.”
Just as the quote from Dr. King points out, one doesn’t have to be great to serve. As a matter of fact, if God calls you to serve, He will give you the ability to do the task.
In addition, He gives each of us natural talents and supernatural gifts to be used in service to others. Scripture says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”1
Body of Christ
God wants us to use our gifts in tandem with others. “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.”2
What that means, Risner says is we were designed to work together, each one doing his or her part to make the entire body function together in unity.
When the body of Christ works together great things can be accomplished, he adds. People will notice we are serving well, working together as a unified body.
Scripture says it this way, “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”3
Today, may His love overflow to others through you.
May you have a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.
May you find your sweet spot of service in the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God.
May we change the world as we share grace and love in genuine service to others.
1 1 Cor. 12:7 NLT
2 Romans 12: 4-6 NLT
3 1 Peter 2:9 NLT
Teresa Shields Parker is an author, speaker and coach. Her bookSweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds is the #1 Christian weight loss memoir on Amazon. Sweet Grace Study Guide gives practical tips on weight loss. Her new book, Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation, published Dec. 2014, shares the stories of 17 individuals on the weight loss journey and includes much information from Teresa. Downloadable pdfs of all books are available under the products tab.
Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching and Accountability Group provides support, encouragement, weekly videos, action steps and an online group for those wanting to be intentional about their weight loss efforts.
To request Teresa to speak at your event, please contact her here.