The hardest, most effective way to serve others is to… wait for it…
Serve others on THEIR terms
That’s it. It’s plastered all over the Bible. Marketers teach it in the secular world. And deep down in those dark, dangerous dungeons of our hearts, we know it. We know it because. . .
We want to be served that way too
We’re told to love our neighbor as ourselves, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the most effective way to serve others is also the most effective way to serve ourselves.
Think about it. When you serve yourself… oh, maybe you don’t do that. Hypothetically, if you were to serve yourself, how would you do it?
I know what I would do. I’d serve myself…
What I Want
I wouldn’t waste effort looking around to see what’s available. I’d just give Marshall whatever Marshall wanted. It’s simple. I’ve trained well in the art of selfishness.
But let’s convert this to selflessness.
To serve others effectively, you serve them what they want.
You serve what they want, when they want, where, they want, how they want. And you dunk it in chocolate if they want that also.
This is the key to effective service. Effective service relates to the customer. It gives what the customer understands. It gives what the customer seeks. It gives what the customer craves.
Think of a recent purchase. What did you buy? Why did you buy it? Did you understand it? Did you look for it? Did you want it?
If you’re a teenager, you might have purchased your favorite band’s new CD. If you’re that teenager’s mother, you might have considered paying to turn that same CD off.
Whatever it was you bought, you probably really wanted. You wanted it enough to buy it.
We’re called to serve that much value by serving what is wanted.
Think of a Christmas gift you enjoyed receiving. I’m not talking about the one from your son, a picture of a tornado… or was it a volcano… or a toucan? You enjoyed that gift based on the motive behind it. No, what gift have you received that you love for the gift itself, not just because you love the giver?
Chances are, you love that gift because it was given on your terms. The gift likely has meaning for you.
If you’re a hunter, you don’t want free crocheting lessons. If you want those crocheting lessons, you don’t want an apprenticeship with an auto mechanic.
Think of Jesus Christ. What do you think He was doing here in that human body? Granted, God made these bodies, so they’re not completely horrid. But giving up heaven to come here? …to help a bunch of fishermen and cripples? …choosing to suffer pain?
God the Father sent Jesus to interact with us on our terms. He became one of us. God served the hardest, most effective way.
Too often, we come up with a product, and say, “Hello world, here’s what I’ve got. Who wants it?”
Most of the time, no one does. And then we feel like we’ve done our duty because we’ve tried to serve. But we haven’t served on their terms.
I gladly (or semi-gladly) volunteer to clean at my church. “Sure,” I’m thinking, “I can do this.” But when the day comes, when I receive that phone call to come clean right in the middle of my weekend, I often lose it.
That servant’s heart evaporates.
Have you been in a similar situation? You’re all ready to serve. You’re fired up. You’re motivated. But then you find out that serving means waking up early to help some random neighbor load a pickup track with furniture… follow the truck to the new house… unload it… and repeat three times.
Or service means leaving your Thanksgiving party to visit the hospital.
Or service means listening to your friend explain all the problems of life when you could be napping.
These trivial services make the difference – when you serve even though you don’t have to, even though you’re not necessarily expected to.
The greatest service is when you serve when it inconveniences you a lot and only seems to benefit a little. You might say the service-to-benefit ratio is skewed. You’re serving massive effort for comparatively small benefits.
That’s when serving gets painful. And that’s when serving gets effective.
Jesus served us, giving His priceless effort, for only a few to accept salvation. But it was the greatest service ever given.
The hardest, most effective way to serve others is to serve on their terms.
(1) What kills your comfort zone? That’s most likely the service you should perform. Try it.
(2) Make it a daily habit to serve someone based on what he or she understands.