My parents were married for more than 50 years when Mom went to heaven. That’s an admirable record, but made much more remarkable by the fact that they didn’t just “stick it out” and ride on their commitment and covenant they had made. They actually loved each other and were deeply devoted to one another. They had fun, enjoyed each other, and never for a moment considered life apart. They shared repeatedly the “secret sauce” for their relationship: mutual service. Dad and Mom had made a commitment at the very beginning that, especially since they both were Christ-followers, they would model their relationship with each other on Christ’s way of relationship. Practically laying down their lives for each other became a way of life. I have heard each of them say, “We individually declared that if we ever went to bed with one having out-served the other, it would be the partner, not me.” I love their loving spirit of competition to serve.
We saw how this played itself out in everyday life; the fun and cooperation it brought into our home. As we have lived our own lives, we have found that their idea works. When we serve each other in that way, life steps up in fulfillment and satisfaction. When we don’t, frustration, dissatisfaction, and blame grow.
Now I understand some of the fine print on the service contract for relationships. Most of us are willing to serve in the big ways, the ones that get the spotlight. We will do great things on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, if an illness is sudden and serious, buy gifts that people can see. But those “acts of service” are as much about us looking good to the world as they are service, in reality.
I know another secret to serving: Think small. It’s small things, things no one sees or notices until no one does them that can make the difference. Refilling the toilet paper dispenser. Carrying the clothes basket up the steps. Finishing the dishes that are left in the sink. Putting gas in the car when it is low. Picking up that piece of paper. I could go on and on. There are countless things in a solitary day, that generally get overlooked in our rush to the “important things,” that make a vast difference in our attitudes and the tenor of life around the house or the office. Serving, becoming a person with a true heart for service, starts there. It begins by doing the countless little things that don’t get a pat on the back or acknowledgment very often, but they grease the wheels of the relationship/operation, and make it run smoothly.
When you develop a habit of serving in the small, normally overlooked matters, it becomes a way of life. You will end up serving and looking like Jesus, the One whose perspective on personal service changed your eternity.