In my What On Earth Am I Here For small group this week, I learned that “What matters in life is not the duration of your life, but rather the donation of your life.” Wow! What an awesome perspective to have about your life!
Even as a young man graduating with my MBA in 1991, I would have to say that if someone shared that statement with me back then, I don’t think I would have fully understood its meaning. And even today, when I think about it, I wonder if I fully comprehend its profound meaning in a life as my own. I guess I can say this much. I know I’m not where I want to be with the donation of my life unto others; however, I am thankful that I’m not where I used to be when I first started my life journey as a Christian more than 22 years ago.
As I reflect back over my life, I think I really started to learn something about this when I went on my very first mission trip to Mexico. At the time, I was young in the Lord, recently married, and building a new home. In the process of building my home, I befriended the Christian man who was framing my house and he invited me to join the organization he founded to help raise funds for missions building projects in other countries. After the funds were raised for a building project, he would then take a team of volunteer men on their own expense to travel to the country and complete the building project with the help of a missionary in that country.
Well, the first missions project that I felt God was leading me to participate in was the building of a new church in Mexico. We raised $3,500 and took a team of 10 people on a bus to a remote village in Mexico somewhere south of Brownsville. As we began to prepare for the trip, I was thinking to myself…what kind of church can we build for only $3,500? And the truth is, I didn’t even believe that we could build a church for $3,500 so I figured to myself that we would probably end up just doing some maintenance work or something to help the church rather than actually build a church.
Once we arrived, I quickly experienced what some might call “first time missions culture shock” because the remote village where we were building the church had homes that were made of mud, sticks, and hay. The church structure was the only structure in the town made of cinder blocks which the President of our organization had arranged to be put up before we arrived. The water supply for the village was nothing more than a large mud hole in the ground that supplied the livestock and the community. And to make my missions culture shock worse was that the leader of our team shared with us that the Pastor and his wife were going to cook us breakfast while we were working in the little village.
When I heard this, I honestly began to have fearful thoughts of becoming ill from the food. So I told the leader, “I don’t think I will be able to eat the breakfast.” And he said, “You have to eat the breakfast because they are offering us their best and you will offend these kind people if you don’t.” Without any further discussion, I began to pray, “Lord help me!”
When we arrived at the work-site on the first morning, the leader came and told us that he had good news…we were not going to be fed breakfast. But then he said, we were going to be fed lunch. I was thinking, “Lord, how am I going to get through this without becoming ill?” So when the time for lunch came, we were invited into the Pastor’s one room home with a mud-brick oven. And as we sat down, we were served freshly baked tortilla bread, freshly cooked refried beans, stir fried chicken with a coca cola, and Christian music playing in the background. All I can say is that the Holy Spirit was so overwhelmingly present as we gave thanks to God and broke bread together with that precious brother and sister in Christ.
Furthermore, the Lord did an amazing work in me that day to help me see my selfishness and to become ever more grateful for all of His blessings in my life. After that trip, I made a commitment that no matter how prosperous I might become in life, I did not want to ever forget the blessings of God in my life or forget the fact that as a Christian I am actually blessed to be a blessing to others.
With that in mind, I would like to share three characteristics of a person called to bless.
1) Dying to Self
A person who is called to bless must learn how to die to themselves and present their bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord.
I like what Romans 12:1-2 says in the Message bible: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” MSG
Learning how to die to self is not easy and the truth is: it cannot be done without the help of the Holy Spirit.
In Matthew 26:41-42, Jesus tells His disciples, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” NKJV
Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane praying about the Father’s will to bring Him to the cross when He told His disciples that the Spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, His flesh did not want to go to the Cross. He prayed three times to His Father for the cup of suffering He was about to experience to pass from Him, but nonetheless, by the Spirit of God in Him, He yielded His flesh to the will of the Father and not His own will.
It’s no different for you and me. If we are going to be a true blessing to others, we will have to learn how to die to our flesh, walk in the power of the Spirit, and yield our will to the Father’s will for our life.
In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus tells the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.” NLT
The process of dying to self matures us and makes us more like Jesus.
2) Living Generously
Secondly, a person who is called to bless must learn how to live generously towards others.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You make a living by how much you get; you make a life by how much you give”? I don’t know who made this statement; however, I do believe it is applicable in the kingdom of God.
In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus says, “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” MSG
The person who lives generously towards others – friends and enemies alike – has come to the realization of how generous God is towards them…even when they don’t deserve His generosity.
In Romans 5:8, the apostle Paul tells us, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” NLT And in Matthew 10:8, Jesus tells us to, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” NKJV
This video from Chick-Fil-A titled Going The Second Mile perfectly demonstrates the principle of living generously towards others.
3) Being a Service Enthusiast
Thirdly, a person called to bless must learn how to serve others with enthusiasm and passion.
I learned from reading Joel Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now, that the word “Enthusiasm” comes from two Greek words: En Theos which means inspired by God; therefore, “Service Enthusiasm” means service inspired by God.
In Ephesians 6:5-8, the apostle Paul says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart [passion]. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.” NLT
When I was a young leader, I had the privilege of leading a very large division. In my role as the leader, I had to teach my team the difference between service enthusiasm and service bureaucracy. Because I have seen the detrimental effects resulting towards people from service bureaucracy, I have honestly grown to hate service bureaucracy. I also believe God actually hates service bureaucracy too because it is ultimately characterized by a lack of faith in Him. In Numbers Chapter 13, the Bible tells us that a whole generation of God’s people had to perish in the wilderness because of the whining, complaining, and unbelief that fostered an attitude of service bureaucracy. When you have the time, I encourage you to find the story in the Bible and read it. It is pretty astonishing to read about the severe consequences that God allowed through the sin of service bureaucracy.
An attitude of service bureaucracy is present when people say things like:
- “We can’t do that, it’s not possible.” [This is rooted in a lack of faith]
- “We tried that idea many times…it will never work because of this, that, and 20 other reasons.” [This is rooted in a lack of a leadership]
- “That’s not my job to solve that problem…it’s not in my job description.” [This is rooted in a lack of responsibility]
- “You want me to do what? I don’t get paid enough to do that.” [This is rooted in a lack of gratitude]
On the other hand, an attitude of service enthusiasm is present when people say things like:
- “I’ve been thinking about that problem and I think we should try this or that to help solve that problem.”
- We can solve that problem and we can do it now because God is with us.”
- “Count me in regardless of the pay because I want to make a difference with my life.”
A person with an attitude of service enthusiasm will serve others with passion and enthusiasm because it is the right thing to do and they do it with a positive attitude. Because service enthusiasts are creative, faith-filled, passionate, positive, and always willing to do more than what is asked of them, they are marketable people and will go far in life especially when they know God and believe Him to fulfill His good plan for their life.
So let me encourage you to fulfill your calling to bless by:
1) Dying to yourself and taking up your cross to do God’s will and bless others.
2) Living generously towards others as you freely give to others what you have freely received from Christ.
3) Being a service enthusiast willing to go the second mile to serve others with enthusiasm and passion.
Thank you and have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!
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