2017-10-05 / Letters

Defining your dignity crucial to serve God

By Allison Byerley

Allison Byerley Allison Byerley Editor’s note: All local church organizations are invited to contribute to this weekly column about faith. Send submissions to greg@mariposagazette.com.

I remember my first real job after college. I spent four years getting my degree and for the first few months after I started, the most challenging thing I did was make copies. The same was true when I became the pastor of my first church as a seminarian. I discovered that part of my job was setting out the trash cans for pickup weekly and turning on the air or heat in the church on Sunday morning. Every job has those unwritten duties that may seem beneath our pay grade.

Rabbi Gifter of the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland once counseled a couple. They came because the wife complained that the husband who studied all day would not take out the trash. She asked the rabbi if there was anything in Jewish law that compelled the husband to do this simple chore. Sadly there is not, responded the rabbi, and the couple went on their way.

The next morning Rabbi Gifter showed up at the house. The man was overjoyed, “Please Rabbi, come in, have something to eat — what an honor!”

“No,” said Rabbi Gifter, “I’ve just come to take out the trash.”

When the man looked puzzled, the rabbi explained, “You see, it may be beneath your dignity, but it is not beneath mine.”

Jesus makes clear that there are no jobs too small or beneath our dignity. One day he caught the disciples arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He got a little annoyed that these men had been with him so long and still did not understand.

“The greatest among you,” he told them, “is the least, the servant of all.” They still didn’t get it though.

On the night he was betrayed, as they sat down to that last meal, Jesus tied a towel around his waist and began to wash the feet of the disciples. This was the job of a slave, and it shocked the disciples. When he finished, Jesus said, “You call me Lord and you are right. If I, your Lord, have acted as a servant to you, then you should do likewise.”

The life of a disciple is one of service. There is no job that is beneath us, not even taking out the garbage.

John Wesley, the founder of the people called Methodists, wrote a covenant prayer that we still say in our Covenant Services. As we prepare to renew our covenant, the pastor says, “Christ has many services to be done. Some are more easy and honorable, others are more difficult and disgraceful. Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and ourselves. But then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.”

Has God ever invited you to serve in a way that you felt was beneath you? How did you respond? This week, look for opportunities to serve God, especially in a way that you may think is beneath your dignity.

Allison Byerley is pastor of the Mariposa United Methodist Church and can be reached at Alison@alliance4you.org.

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Alison you have reminded me

Alison you have reminded me of how much I have missed your sermons. Bless you.

Great article. Service to

Great article. Service to our neighbor grow us closer to God.

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