I am definitely an introvert. I love my group of close-knit friends, but when it comes to large social gatherings, I tend to take a step backward. My friends and family know me to be talkative around people I know really well— sometimes too talkative. But at the end of the day, I just need to get away to recharge my batteries.
In my work at FRC and YLF, I am often surrounded by people. When I lead worship, I am facilitating a process that has the amazing reality of bringing people into God’s presence. As I orchestrate the events for YLF, I am giving the students the opportunity to learn and grow in their leadership potential. I frequently feel like I have to be “on” for the task, or as my friend Amanda calls it, “bringing it.” I’m not saying that I have to force myself to get involved; I’m only saying that it’s a struggle for me sometimes, and I need to work on it.
In those times when I just need to get away, I am reminded of how selfish this mentality can be. I was listening to the radio recently, and the deejay was interviewing TobyMac. Toby talked candidly about today’s culture being self-focused where people hardly ever think of others. It pained me to hear this, for I knew right then and there that I was guilty of this very thing.
I focused my thoughts on two people I consider to be role models of selfless service in order to bring some perspective to the issue. The first person is my pastor, Tim Sluiter. When Pastor Tim first came to FRC, I knew almost immediately that he was serious about service. He obviously had a heart for others, which was quickly exemplified in his passion for outreach, missions, and church vitality. When I communicated to him of my intention to study Ministry Leadership, he was one of the first to stand behind my goals and give me a platform to share my gifts. In fact, Pastor Tim was the first person to take me serious enough to actually welcome me on paid church staff.
Pastor Tim is committed to his ministry and family, and often these two elements converge during office hours. His compassionate heart has drawn him to Africa multiple times, and as I write this, he and a team from our church are serving in Malawi, Africa in an effort to show love to the local people there. While he is gone, our congregation carries on because he has shown us true service.
My second model of selfless service is one of my YLF counselors, Abraham Martin. Abe came to us as a delegate/ camper in 2008 and hasn’t left the program since. He has been a counselor for three years, and just last year, he became an active member on our board of directors. He has served as both treasurer and secretary, and he completed most of the paperwork which gave us nonprofit status. He often pulls long hours and late nights just to do what he does best— serving the delegates.
As we prepared to hire staff for this year, the executive committee coined the phrase: “serve the delegates.” We were looking for staff that wouldn’t be at YLF just to have fun or make friends; we were looking for individuals willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to selflessly serve these future leaders in the disability community. I would like to share a post that Abe uploaded onto his Facebook page the night before he left home for YLF 2012, for I think it puts his commitment toward his work into perspective.
“I will stay up long into the night finishing my projects for the 2012 Youth Leadership Forum in Madison, Wisconsin. What is it you ask? YLF (for short) is a program dedicated to serving high school students with a documented disability to challenge the status quo, make change in their community, and to pursue their dreams. Why do I do it? Because I have been stepped on – Been at the bottom and YLF helped me to see the light – see my purpose which is to be an Ally for people who are Differently Abled – because anyone can do anything if they have the right encouragement. I do it because I feel I am encouraging these delegates. The Staff motto: We are here to Serve the Delegates (and to learn from the delegates).”— Abraham Martin
If you are looking for what it means to serve selflessly, perhaps you might be inspired by Pastor Tim and Abraham. I have heard it said that our actions and how we serve others may be the only Jesus the people of this world will ever see. I’m hoping when others look at me they see Jesus by the way I serve His people. What about you?