I love reading invigorating stories of people who have started NGOs, founded orphanages, adopted foster kids, created fair-trade organizations, or pulled off some other world-changing feat. But as inspiring as these people are, most of us aren’t called to that kind of mission. We’re in one place, woven through a family and a community, living pretty low-key lives.
Let me share with you three things that have helped my family learn to love and serve our community in the midst of our ordinary everyday lives.
1) Say yes to serving
This could be in your church or your kids’ school, or for your neighbor, or anywhere there is a need that you can fill. And you can be sure that there is a need that you can fill. We learned that when we started serving in our church. We started by giving an hour or so of our time, but as we saw more needs that we could fill, we said yes. This serving enables us to give back to our community, and we’re blessed by the friendships this builds and strengthens.
2) Let go of perfection
Do you love to entertain, but only when you’ve had the time to clean your house, plan a gourmet meal, and cut fresh flowers for the table? I’ve learned that availability is the first step in hospitality. Welcoming people into your home is so often the start of and the fuel for a friendship. I will open the door to my house for you no matter what it looks like, and I will share whatever I have in my kitchen with you. I’ve become quite comfortable sharing my imperfection, and have found that this makes it easier for others to respond in kind.
3) Choose relationship over convenience
Like everyone else, sometimes I want to be done with people. There’s almost nothing I like more than my bed and a good TV show, with no one to bug me. But later today, I’m going to go to the kitchen and bake some cookies, because my husband invited people over to watch a football game. And in the years ahead, I know we’ll remember getting together with our loved ones with far more fondness than I will recall the TV shows I watched in my PJs.
Your light might not be huge, but it will shine bright as you open your life to those around you and serve them with warmth and joy. Just like Jesus did.