Service – it’s one of the tell-tale signs of the Christian life.
Jesus most certainly instructs his disciples in the necessity of service. There isn’t a single saint whose life isn’t filled with service. It’s sewn into the very fabric of each vocation.
However, have you ever found yourself being asked by everyone and their brother to do things?
Things that irritate or stir up feelings of failure if you don’t do it, as if you aren’t doing God’s will? Boy, I have. The number of times I’ve said to myself, “I have five kids, only two hands, and I can’t bi-locate!” Perhaps it was my pride; regardless, I dearly needed instruction.
Fortunately, an awesome priest had some great advice about service.
He said, “Please God, serve man.”
When asked to do things, too often I found myself trying to please people because it made someone happy or made me feel good. I was easily affected by how my sacrifice was received. I frequently felt irritation at being asked, frustration from the amount of work involved, hurt if unappreciated, or feelings of failure. I had to detach myself from pleasing people and start to simply do things for people if it pleased God.
I needed prayer, discernment, and prudence to give order to my service.
For me, pleasing God is accepting my littleness and obedience to His will in the moment and being motivated by love to do these things because He loved me first. So, I please God first by dedicating time to daily prayer and doing my daily duty. Next, service is for my husband, and then my children.
This question often guides me (from the mundane to outlandish requests made of me by family to random strangers):
This thing may be good in and of itself, but is it good for me right now?
If it’s about putting God first, doing for my husband, my children or my duties, I know it pleases Him. If the request leads me away from doing my duty to this priority list, I say no. If it upsets someone – sorry, not sorry.
I’m not gonna lie – I can still get frustrated.
But, ordering my service priorities has helped. Growing in prayer, applying the rules of discernment, and practicing prudence has made a huge difference. I’m less sensitive to how people react to my service or lack thereof, after all, I’m not trying to please them. I’m trying to please God. And, with simplicity, humility and obedience, He’s very, very easy to please.