Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
My friend Jill is a dynamo in the Lord’s kingdom on earth. A physician’s assistant, she is the clinic director at a local resource center that provides not only medical and dental care but hot meals and hot showers, temporary and long-term housing, and job training and referrals to homeless and indigent people in our community. She further serves the Lord by traveling to the Dominican Republic at least once a year to administer sorely needed medical treatments and to teach people there about basic health care and hygiene. When she’s not busy working full-time or going on mission trips, she mentors other women, leads prayer groups, and serves in several capacities at her church. Her plate is full, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
What if Mother Teresa had taken one look at the poverty, disease, suffering, and utter chaos surrounding her in Calcutta and thought, Well, this is certainly overwhelming. I don’t see how I can make much of a difference here. Think I’ll catch the first rickshaw back to Macedonia? She didn’t see it that way, and neither does God.
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
Not all of us are called to be a Mother Teresa or even a Jill. Each of us was imbued before birth with a unique calling and purpose set forth by God. God may even have different plans for you at different stages of your life. He may call you as a teen or young adult to invite your friends to church so they can learn about God’s grace and the gift of salvation. If you’re in the season when you’re raising young children, He may simply call you to be the best parent you can be by making Jesus your role model. If you’re struggling with the loneliness of a divorce or an empty nest, He may be calling you to set aside your hurt and serve others, the surest way to put your own problems in perspective and view them as temporary yet vital opportunities to draw closer to God.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
You may sometimes think that your contribution is minuscule and doesn’t make a difference. But you serve a God of unlimited power and resources. He can multiply every penny you give to a homeless ministry or your church, every word of encouragement you speak, every act of kindness and selflessness you perform in His name. Its effects will ripple indefinitely. You may never know the difference you’ve made in someone’s life, and that’s OK. God keeps His promises even when we’re not privy to the results.
Not all of us are destined to do great things—heal broken bodies and spirits, lead nations, raise orphans, become preachers and teachers, fight on the front lines against abuse, poverty, and injustice. Most of us serve, day in and day out, in much smaller ways without fanfare, recognition, or extrinsic reward, just as God expects. As Mother Teresa reminded us, we can all do small things with great love.
We are born to encourage, help, and love one another as brothers and sisters of one Father. When you serve others in any way, you are serving the Lord Himself.
Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.