DEVELOPING A SERVANT’S HEART
How do I develop a servant’s heart? Household chores are a fact of life: folding laundry, scrubbing bathrooms, disposing of garbage, preparing meals, cleaning up afterward. Add in chronic illness, and daily activities can get complicated. In our family, I am home every day and therefore try to maintain the usual household tasks and care for our two little boys which (any mother will tell you) is a full-time job on its own.
However, there’s another member of our family: chronic disease. It’s the unseen presence that governs much of our lives and choices. A day in the life with severe illness can vary greatly. I walk a tightrope, cautiously maintaining the balance between what to do and what not to do. Every exertion of energy has potential consequences, making everyday life more of a challenge than others think. Lifting is hard, sweeping is hard, putting out the garbage is hard – and those are just the basics. With chronic illness, the smallest tasks can be exhausting, and the most important parts of life can seem almost impossible.
THE HEART OF A SERVANT IS 100% COMMITTED
My incredible husband serves our family passionately and graciously. He cooks most of our meals, works hard to provide, gives 100% to parenting our kids, treasures me as Christ does the church, and loves Jesus immensely. I am incredibly blessed to call him mine.
Marriage should not be a “50/50” split mentality; it is the commitment to giving 100% every day, no matter what your spouse is offering in return. However, how does that work when it seems like one spouse is giving less – perhaps much less? Together, my husband and I make a great team in so many ways, but yes, without God’s continual grace, resentment can build. If we look at one another with a scorecard in the back of our minds, bitterness can seep in and grow, making it harder and harder to serve each other as Christ intended.
A SERVANT’S HEART
A wise, dear friend of mine recently told me: “There is a big difference between serving and being a servant, and God calls for a servant’s heart.”
This revelation grabbed my heart tightly, flooding me with conviction but also filling me with a much-needed peace. In Christian circles, you will hear the terms “serve” and “servanthood” quite often. It’s rooted in scripture as a theological pillar and comes straight from the mouth of Jesus, who “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28 NIV).
The Bible tells us to serve, but it’s our hearts (not our actions) that reveal if we’re following the example Jesus set by washing His disciple’s feet.
On a good-health day, I can accomplish quite a bit; I’m quick and efficient, and I like to get stuff DONE. On days like these, I can go above and beyond; taking the kids for an extended outing, or maybe cleaning the whole house top to bottom, and catching up on the mountains of laundry. However, on a bad day, things are different. I may get through the day, but my step counter probably won’t go over 2000, and on these days, I get much-needed help or survive hour by hour doing the bare minimum.
Sadly, no matter how much does or doesn’t get done, I go to bed without the peace I so desire. After a good day, I swell with pride, enjoying personal satisfaction or looking for a pat on the back. However, on a bad day, I berate myself for being lazy or, in my eyes, a failure to my family. In both scenarios, I recount my daily activities and tell myself I was serving, and that’s what counts.
Do I truly have a servant’s heart if afterward I’m either filled with pride or guilt?
While physically doing things for others is part of being a biblical servant, I believe the full meaning is more in-depth. It’s about knowing that service comes from the heart and is an overflow of the love of Jesus. I realize that when I am saturated in His Word and am growing in love and knowledge of our Lord, my heart changes and molds to be one more like Jesus’ – the heart of a servant, not self-seeking, and content in the knowledge that everything I do great or small, I do for the Lord.
With that truth within me, I can freely give of myself to the best of my human ability, finding peace in everyday circumstances and honestly believing God when He says, “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).
A SERVANT’S HEART • WORTH NOT BASED ON ACTIONS
Every day of our lives, we make choices, and I am learning that one of those choices is to stop defining my worth and myself by what I do or do not accomplish.
To some eyes, we may seem to be only giving a small percentage of ourselves on those hard days because of our physical or mental limitations, and I know how discouraging this can be, especially for spouses. The enemy wants us to live in a state of defeat, causing strife in our homes and distance in our marriages, but we need to rest in the peace of God that can only come from a thriving relationship with Him.
A SERVANT’S HEART • LET GOD’S WORD GUIDE
“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). I will always carry this verse in my heart as a reminder of godly servanthood, pulling it out at those times of temptation – and I will hold tightly to truth and let the unconditional love of my Savior be what spills into my day and into the lives of others.
I will choose to be wise and generous with my actions. I will choose to be grateful for what I can accomplish – and by God’s eternal grace, I will choose to have a servant’s heart.
Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer
Erin is a grateful follower of Jesus, navigating the different stages of life through the eyes of chronic illness. She has a passion for empowering others by encouraging them to trust God even in the most difficult of circumstances. Erin and her husband (along with their two young boys) are purposeful and passionate in living out their faith and loving their neighbors. Her other passions include freelance writing, loom knitting, and fishing!
Creative Ways to Serve
Chronic illness can make serving in traditional or culturally familiar ways challenging – but not impossible. Discover creative new ways to love God and others right where you are, however you are able.