“Humble Service Means There’s Nothing in It for You”

Here’s something for every deacon to ponder—and it comes from a woman helping her cousin through childbirth.

Elizabeth Duffy expected to be like Mary rushing to the aid of Elizabeth. It didn’t work out that way: 

As I drove home later that day, assessing the situation in hindsight, it became clear that what I went there looking for was a starring role in her birth story. It was not to be.

Instead I went home to prepare for a party at my house. Several weeks earlier she had asked me to host a party at my house for her baby’s dedication. My house was centrally located to the church and the rest of the family. The yard is big and kid friendly. All I would have to do is clean it, and her mom would bring all the food. It was an easy thing to do, and I willingly agreed.

But the time was coming to pay the piper. I had to clean my house. I hate cleaning my house. It never lasts. It gets really dirty with all these people. The cleaning has to be perfectly timed, close enough to the party that it won’t get filthy again before people arrive, and yet early enough that I get it all done. Cleaning my house is not how I wanted to be of service.

Whenever we talk about the Visitation of Mary to her cousin, we always talk about her going to offer humble service. This morning was the first time it hit me that humble service is actually the service you don’t especially want to do.

I’m a very willing servant in certain things. I have a lively imagination about bringing my bed-ridden cousin trays of breakfast, or putting on the blood-pressure cuff. But often the service one would like to offer is not the service that is required. Humble service means there’s nothing in it for you. There’s no reward. There’s no glorious memory. That’s what makes it humble.

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