On Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to help serve a meal to those in need at our church’s Dream Center in the Woodlawn community of Birmingham. Per the website, I was expecting to arrive to a sign-in table for volunteers and leaders of sort directing us on where to go, what to do, etc. But when I arrived, there was no such thing. Everyone was walking around a little out of place and anxiously asking “what can I do to help?” There was more food donated than we knew what to do with and more volunteers than there was a job for. It was awesome! And it was chaos! If there was ever an opportunity for leadership it was on this day and at this very moment.
In a building full of people, I’m not sure what the average stats would be on how many of them are typically leaders versus how many are typically followers, but on Thursday at the Dream Center, I would say that about 95% of the people who came to volunteer were leaders. It was staggering. But the most interesting part was how people gravitated towards certain tasks- tasks that most likely matched their skill sets.
I started off helping prep the desserts and ended up helping keep the food in the serving lines full. But somewhere in the middle for a while, I ended up being the microwaver (that was my title). There isn’t a stove or oven at the Dream Center and some of the food was delivered cold so someone had to heat it up…somehow. That someone became me. And somehow became the microwave. It wasn’t really my choice; I was given the job by one of the self-proclaimed leaders, but it was actually a great fit as I am phenomenal with a microwave. I make fun of my neighbor all the time for over-heating everything he puts in the microwave, but he can’t help it. He uses his stove and oven all the time to cook stuff and is not as experienced with the microwave as I am. This was the perfect job for me! I was in my element and in a groove now!
It was so much fun watching everyone dive in. No one was afraid to get their hands dirty or carry around a trash bag or wash dishes or most importantly love on everyone who walked through the door. One of the leaders at the Dream Center prayed before the serving line opened and reminded us that to the people who walked in the door, we had the opportunity to be the face of God. Wow. The face of God. Think about that for a minute.
What an awesome opportunity and responsibility – to be the face of God. To love them as God loves us. To love them as a Christian loves his neighbor. To make a choice to love them in a way that they see God through us. C.S. Lewis said that “Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will.” It is a choice – a choice, regardless of our likes, dislikes, or opinions of that person, to be kind, to serve them, to honor them, to love them.
This may sound strange to some of you, but the most powerful position you can aspire to is actually that of a humble servant. Servant leaders, I’m going to venture to guess, bring about more real and lasting change than any other kind. Why? Well, I think it’s because that is exactly what we were created to be – servants. And we will never be more effective than when we are doing what we were created to do and being what we were created to be.
There are opportunities all around us every day to serve others; to be the face of God for them. Today, I just want to encourage you to find them. To proactively seek them out. To make the difference you were created to make.
“A Godly Leader finds strength by realizing his weakness, finds authority by being under authority, finds direction by laying down his own plans, finds vision by seeing the needs of others, finds credibility by being an example, finds loyalty by expressing compassion, finds honor by being faithful, finds greatness by being a servant.” - Roy Lessin