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Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Servant's Heart

I just love my dad.  He can always be found crackin’ a joke or helping a neighbor in need.  While I was growing up, a common sight would be my dad working under the hood of a random car or for that matter, working under the entire car with just his feet hangin’ out.  

Sixty-five vehicles have found a home in his garage over the years.  He bought some of the cars to help out friends; some to repair and sell for extra income; and I would assume some just because they were sharp lookin’ hot rods with amazing engines.  I never knew what car Mom would be driving to pick me up from school.  It made for exciting afternoons, no doubt.

Dad’s passion for working on things with wheels has shifted recently – still four wheels, just smaller ones.  The man usually has in his possession at least five lawn mowers at any given time.  The mowers have either been given to him by a frustrated owner or they were headed for their demise on a curb somewhere along his daily walking route.  But, all of them were simply in need of his magic touch. 

Growing up, I was blessed to have a dad that could fix everything - literally.  He had a hard time sleeping at night if something wasn’t in proper working order.  He bought me a used car when I was sixteen and always made sure the oil was changed, the tires were rotated, the windshield wiper fluid was topped off, and the inspections were done on time.

After I got married, it took me awhile to figure out what MY actual car responsibilities were.  Dad had always taken care of my car (well, I did fill up the gas tank – does that count?).  I forgot to fill my honey in on the fact that my dad had done ALL of my car maintenance up until that point.  So, I drove around for eight months with an expired inspection sticker, oil that was certainly not changed every three months and windshield wiper fluid that ran dry on several occasions (Shhh…don’t tell my dad).

My dad is also a very practical guy who likes to label things – lots of things.  Well, almost everything actually.  My parents have a cute little beach house on the coast and they enjoy taking the grandkids down to fish, build sand castles and just relax.  And, my dad has thoroughly enjoyed using his black Sharpie marker at that house in particular.  

“Light” and “fan” are neatly written above the pull strings used to turn on either one on the kitchen light/fan combo.  “Push hard” is written on the back door.  “Salt” and “pepper” are carefully written on the shakers and all of the food items in the fridge and freezer are properly labeled with the date that they were opened.

I thought the whole labeling thing was a tad bit tacky at first.  But, then when my husband and I moved into our first home, I pulled the light and fan strings randomly, turned the wall switch off and on back and forth – only to have the fan blowing full speed ahead and still no light on.  Ugh.  If you want to know the truth, the black Sharpie idea is really growing on me.  It just makes life easier – no guesswork needed.

Of course, labeling can have a negative connotation if we “label” others or judge a book by its cover.  If we “label,” then we neglect to see what’s underneath someone’s exterior.  What would we discover if we look beyond that protective armor?  How lucky we are that God doesn’t make us walk around with black marker across our forehead.  On certain days, it sure would be tough to wear the words that describe who we truly are - the mistakes we’ve made, along with our weaknesses and shortcomings.  He is merciful and I am thankful for that.

But, labeling can have a positive slant if it’s a label that we WANT to work toward HAVING or BECOMING.  What if we labeled our heart as a “servant’s heart?”  (Did she say SERVANT?!  What?!)  That’s a harsh word to swallow in this what’s-in-it-for-me-world that we sometimes live in.  We could automatically assume a “servant” would simply be the victim of a negative “do this-do that-rub my feet-rub my back” mentality.  However, we would miss the point entirely if that was our only thought of the word, servant.  (Hey, I like a foot massage just as much as the next gal, don’t get me wrong!  Let me explain...)

What if we take Roy Lessin’s inspirational words to heart (pun intended) in this piece about God’s Kingdom and the heart of a servant?

The highest place is found as we take the lowly place.
Strength is found as we discover our weakness.
Fullness comes as we empty ourselves.
Life is gained as we lay it down for love’s sake.
Riches are gained as we give them away.
Greatness comes as we carry a towel and washbasin
 into every circumstance and relationship in life.

When I called my dad a few days ago to wish him a happy third anniversary, he knew what for.  That day marked three years since he had stents placed in his heart, enabling him to continue to serve.  Thank you, Lord.

Being a veteran himself, my dad has a passion for helping other veterans – those who have served for our great country.  Each month, he drives veterans who need medical attention to a hospital almost three hours away.  A servant’s heart.  My mom helps women in crisis pregnancies and prays relentlessly for the unborn.  A servant’s heart.  My aunt cares for her special needs son and grandson.  A servant’s heart.  A good friend is going on a mission trip to Mexico this summer to help in any way she can.  A servant’s heart.  My mother-in-law always has a hot meal waiting on the table for her husband.  A servant’s heart.  My father-in-law cares for his cattle with the same approach as the Good Shepherd.  A servant’s heart.

A servant’s heart can also be found in my husband for many reasons.  But, this is just one example.  We are forever running out of groceries in our home.  Oftentimes, my husband will call on his way home from work and offer to pick up a few grocery items for our family.  An important detail in this scenario is that my husband wears the same red shirt and khaki pants that the HEB employees wear.  Sooo…when the shoppers ask him for the bazillionth time where an item is located, he directs them with a smile (even the ladies asking for the feminine hygiene stuff…)  A servant’s heart.

Of course, our mindset truly makes a difference in how we serve.  “Oh, they owe me BIG time for this!” or “I hope they realize all I’ve done for them!” are two phrases that might indicate we’ll need a bit more work on our servant’s heart.  Service that is rooted in love helps to build a servant’s heart.

 “A Servant’s Heart?”  Hmmm – I like that label.  Just like the bleeding heart flower, which opens up to give a drop of “blood,” maybe we can open up and give too?  Let’s grab a Sharpie, towel and washbasin and make a difference in someone’s life today.


  1. What a beautiful message, especially during the Lenten Season..........thanks for the reminder to embrace all encounters with a "servant's heart".

  2. Thank you for reading my stories and for taking the time to share your words with us. So glad you stopped by for a few Sips! Continue to share the sunshine...

  3. I realize that I am late to this post by over a year but this is inspiring. I am a husband who has chosen to serve my wife and it's not thankfulness but bitterness and resentment I receive in return. I don't understand why but it may just be God is doing a work in her heart like he is doing a work in mine.

    1. Hi Kevin - Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed this post and thanks for your comments. The Lord does so much work behind the scenes. I think I would personally be too overwhelmed if I knew just how much! ;-) One of the old gospel songs that can help rejuvenate a weary servant's heart is this one:

      "Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me,
      Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
      Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
      Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me."

      I often say it as a prayer. I will also pray that the Holy Spirit provide your servant's heart with fresh strength and perseverance to keep on keepin' on. God will bless your efforts.