-Abby Friend, Guest Services Director
In January of 2006, as a part of the camp internship I was doing, I went with a team to help out at a camp in Chile. (For the record, January is a perfect time to head to summer camp in the southern hemisphere.) Our group arrived in time to help the owners, a Chilean couple, prepare the camp for the campers that would arrive the next week. We did some cleaning and small maintenance tasks and helped build a fence around the property. As it often goes with work projects though, there either weren’t enough tools or supervisors available, so my friend and I were left doing jobs that weren’t as high profile. That was somewhat disappointing, especially since the reason we were there was to help! We wanted to do something impactful! But instead, we picked up trash around the camp, and on one hot afternoon delivered fresh fruit from our hostesses to the guys working on the fence. They took a break when we arrived, and we all joked that instead of being simply moral support, my friend and I were their “fruit support,” to which I made a face that said “I’m way more important than that.”
But the reality is I’m not better than fruit support. In fact, the reason I wasn’t excited about it was because I wanted to the recognition of doing something tangible. I wanted to tell people that I helped build that fence, and I wanted them to thank me for it. I didn’t want to serve the others who were serving, because that is boring. But really I was just thinking about me, not about the people around me. I forgot that service is about doing what needs to be done, and not about feeling better about myself.
God has been reminding me recently about what it means to die to myself, to deny myself like He tells us we must in order to be His follower:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Turning from my selfish ways is difficult, you know? It means that I don’t get to choose how I serve – which means I’m not often doing the glamorous, up-front jobs, but usually the behind the scenes tasks like delivering fruit. It’s picking up trash or staying late to turn off the lights. It’s plunging a toilet or helping someone else do their tasks when it would be easier to just walk away.
And, I’ve learned that denying myself isn’t always doing anything. It’s letting that person in line at Wal-Mart cut in front of me even though I was obviously there first. It’s being patient when I have every right to be frustrated. It’s listening to Philippians 2:3 which says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”
So next time I balk at serving in a boring way, I want to think of others before myself, put a smile on, and offer some fruit support.