Can We Serve Too Much?

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Every few weeks, my husband and I get together with a group of friends. Since we all met at church—and since we were the brainchild of our teaching pastor and his wife—we might look like a "small group," but that's not quite right. We get together and eat and drink and talk. And talk and talk. Whoever hosts gets to choose the topic of discussion—or to throw out some questions. We offer each other openness and confidentiality and support. And I love it.

Anyway, yesterday one of these friends emailed to see if we'd be interested in doing a little "service project" for our next get-together. Even though he suggested something simple that could be done while eating and talking, I actually groaned when I read his request. Though I waited a good half-hour before putting in my two cents, my email reply groaned right along with me.

I wrote that were it solely up to me, I'd rather not do the project (nice, I know) because, "I often feel like my life is one big, exhausting service project and one thing I love about this group is the chance to chill and be among people who I can admit things like I just did."

I realized right away that I sounded horrible and whiney, half-bragger, half-martyr, but I sent it anyway. Because I actually feel strongly about this.

Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against service projects. I believe we are called to serve. And I do (hence, the line about my life being one-big project). Most of the time I do it gladly—with a cheerful heart. I do it out of love—for God and for others.

But sometimes, I just can't. Sometimes I just need a break from serving or leading or writing or playing or making dinner and just have a chance to be. To laugh, to talk, to share, to answer silly questions or discuss big topics. And to have something nice to sip and yummy to munch on while I'm doing it among friends just makes it all the better.

This is what this group represents to me. And it's been a life-giving and renewing and restful group to be with. Which is why I found myself groaning. I suppose I feel protective of what it's given me—of what it means to me. Maybe it's selfish. Maybe it's not.

I'm not sure. But I keep thinking.

Because we just had Easter, my brain keeps going back to Jesus—reclining at the table with his friends—at the Last Supper. Of course, the "you're being selfish" part of me argues that Jesus did a "service project" at this supper: This was where he washed feet—our ultimate image of the servant leader!

April07, 2010 at 8:40 AM

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