Monday, May 25, 2009

Service and Secrecy

The way up? It's the way down.

"Jesus took a towel and a basin and  redefined greatness." -Richard Foster, "Celebration of Discipline"

Service - it's not just a spiritual discipline, but a way of life, a view of life that demonstrates you love God and you love people. As a practice it can help with devotion and with humility. It's the intentional practice of serving others, even through the most menial of tasks, with an attitude like you're serving our Lord Himself, and doing it in His name and for His glory. "Whatever you do, whether in word in in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Col 3:17). The discipline of service helps us avoid arrogance, helps us appreciate those who serve us, in addition to giving a tangible benefit to those we serve.

A highly related spiritual discipline is that of secrecy. It goes hand and glove with service, as secrecy is an intentional disdain of recognition for a good you've done. Secrecy allows us to love others in a more genuine way, unconcerned with whether they notice or love us back. It also helps keep us free from becoming a people-pleaser, and codependency on the praise of others. The attitude is what is important here - you wouldn't go and lie to deny that you did the act, but you simply do it with an attitude that our love for God and others doesn't depend on getting a 'Thank you'.

This week I and some friends are exploring these and other spiritual disciplines. Some practical examples of service and secrecy include: cleaning a toilet while praying and praising God, cleaning up the floor or highway when no one is around, making an anonymous gift, or simply changing your attitude in doing something you normally do where you choose not to be concerned with whether or not you are thanked. I must say, it makes a huge difference in your heart and for your sense of self-importance when you do things like this and turn them into a devotion time serving and praising God Himself.

For more info on the spiritual disciplines of service and secrecy, see Donald Whitney's "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life", Richard Foster's "Celebration of Discipline", or articles at The Reading Room at The Water's Edge.

No comments: