Henry David Thoreau talked about the tension that keeps so many people frustrated, unfulfilled and desperate when he wrote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Yet that is not the life that God has for you. You are a masterpiece…His masterpiece… “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us (you) to do.” (Eph 2:10 NIV) That does not describe a person who is just getting by – living in quiet desperation – going to their grave with their song still in them. Your song needs to be sung. The world, your world, God has put in your life needs to hear the song He created you to sing! They need to see the masterpiece that He created you to be!!!
To live as the masterpiece God created you to be you must be a servant. That statement seems counterintuitive, but the power of serving as Jesus served will lead you to a life of fulfillment. Jesus said “The greatest among you must be a servant.” (Matt 23:11, NLT) Jesus didn’t say that because He needs your service…He is inviting you to be a part of His Kingdom, to be a part of His mission and vision.
A Powerful Story
Here is a story from my book Life Palette to help illustrate this principle of serving:
My friend Virgil is a motivational speaker. He tells the story of a time when a corporation hired him to speak with their sales department. He spoke about how important it is to be a servant to nurture successful relationships as a salesperson—and that the better servant you are, the better your sales would be. He also said being a servant began at home, and illustrated his point by describing how he would wake up each morning before his wife to make a pot of coffee. He didn’t even drink coffee; he was making the coffee just to serve her. Then he would take her a cup while she was still in bed. As Virgil spoke, one of the salespeople responded with disgust. “This is ridiculous,” the man said. “I didn’t come to hear about this kind of garbage. I want to learn how to have more sales.” Without missing a beat, Virgil responded, “I’m glad you said so, sir. You are going to help me prove my point.” He then asked if that man’s sales manager was in the room. Another gentleman raised his hand. Virgil said to the manager, “I’m willing to bet my pay that he is your worst salesman in this room.” The sales manager reluctantly acknowledged Virgil was right.
How could he know? Simple. “The greatest among you must be a servant,” and since that’s true, it follows that “the worst among you would not be a servant.” Make a conscious choice for your Life Palette to follow the example of Jesus. Be a servant in how you act and communicate.
Here are choices you can make every day to assure that you add value to all of your relationships, assuring that they in turn will add value to you:
1. Choose To Always show respect to others.
While it may not be the cultural norm, the Bible teaches us to “respect everyone.” (1 Peter 2:17) You may think, “Peter didn’t know the people I have to deal with.” Remember, you will reap what you plant—and the harvest of your life is revealed on your life’s canvas. Disrespect will show up as a color that doesn’t belong. It will take away from the color harmony God is painting into the masterpiece that is you.
2. Choose To Always respond to those who are rude by being polite.
It’s natural to want to retaliate against those who are offensive to you. However, that’ll never add value to your Life Palette. It will only cause disharmony and make things worse in the relationship. When you’re rude, it’s as though you’ve thrown a big blob of black into the middle of the canvas that has no business being there. Romans 12:17 says, “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.”
3. Choose To Always be grateful, not demanding.
You’ve chosen to take on the character trait of Jesus and serve others, yet there will always be times when you are being served as well. How you respond to others when they serve you reveals your character. “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” (Luke 6:31) As a pastor, I like to take prospective leaders for the church to a restaurant and see how they treat the person serving them. Anyone can be rude and demanding, but only those who are living life as a masterpiece will consistently choose to be grateful and understanding.
4. Choose To Always speak the truth in love.
Ephesians 4:15 says that as you speak the truth in love you will be “growing in every way more and more like Christ.” The relationships on your Life Palette will have greater success as you focus on the “in love” part of that verse. Someone may pride themselves on always speaking the truth (or persistently speaking their mind). However, the key to this relational principle is the “in love” part. If you needed a surgery to remove cancer from your body, a sharp, smooth scalpel would be preferred to a serrated kitchen knife. Both would have the same result, but one would leave a smaller scar and cause less damage. The same is true of how you speak the truth.
5. Choose To Always show grace with those whom you disagree.
Don’t be judgmental just because you don’t see eye to eye with someone. In Romans 14:12-13, Paul gives insight into this principle: “Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” The focus of this principle is how you respond to those in your life that make choices you believe are wrong. You should always speak in such a way to help them grow, develop, and change, but never beat them over the head. Jesus said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
6. Choose To Always choose to forgive.
When you feel you’ve been wronged or hurt, forgive. As you choose to forgive others, it will allow you to live your life in freedom. Follow Jesus’ example. Hear His words from the cross about those who were crucifying Him: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) The color of unforgiveness will destroy a masterpiece. You will never be asked to forgive anyone more than you have already been forgiven by Jesus.
Begin To Add Value Today
Be generous with these principles in your relationships. Jesus said in Luke 6:38, “The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Take some time today and consider how you can apply each of these choices to your relationships, adding value through serving them in love. It will change your life – home life – work environment – neighbors – kids – the choice to serve and add value is one of the most powerful of all relational principles.