From the very beginning, humans were created to work and to serve one another. Whether it’s God placing Adam and Eve in the garden to work it and keep it, or God telling Abraham his family would bless all the earth, or Paul telling us to follow Jesus’ example by pouring out our lives for others: We were made to serve one another. In Ocala, there are many churches and organizations doing great work. We sense God calling us to serve the most vulnerable people’s, places, and issues, specifically vulnerable children in Marion County.
After a few months of meeting as a church, something interesting began to emerge: There were several foster parents in our community. Some of those foster parents had become adoptive parents. Still others served on boards or worked in organizations whose primary focus was vulnerable children in Marion County. It seemed God was already up to something in our midst. All we needed to do was recognize it and respond. We are currently engaged in serving Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection as well as Royal Family Kids Camp. We’re developing a long term outreach plan to determine how we can serve these organizations and help Marion County become a hub of healing and support for children and families. At present, we’re encouraging as many people from our community as can to serve at the 2015 Royal Family Kids Camp.
Serving is the most dignified of human enterprises. It engages us in God’s economy – where humans are helped. God is Helper, Servant, and Friend – the standard bearer of servant-ness. He serves us by graciously giving us gifts. And we honor Him by graciously giving and receiving these gifts with others. Serving is dynamic; it is a rich discourse, a dialogue, and an opportunity. It is more than a one way flow of resources – that’s just giving. Giving is an important aspect of serving but not the whole of it. Giving is made whole when it is fully dignified – genuine, godly, purposeful and interdependent. In this way, giving and receiving become serving and serving is how humans are helped. That means you and me and everyone else. And thank God, because we all can use the help.
The most fundamental of God’s gifts is dignity. This is why people matter, why you matter. And it comes from the fact that you and I and everyone else were created in God’s image. Dignity essentially means value. All people have dignity. All people have value. This means that everyone has something to offer, an asset that can be engaged for the benefit of others. When we engage these assets that we all possess in the context of a dignified relationship and for a good purpose, then we have the makings of a new and impactful paradigm of service – Serving with Dignity.
But this not how we tend to think of the words ‘dignity’ or ‘service.’ We don’t see service as a dignified human enterprise. We tend to think of dignity as something of a high-brow affair and service as a particularly lowly endeavor. But both of these words are in need of some clarification and Dignity Serves aims to do just that. Its purpose is to help you appreciate the dignity you and others possess to such a deep extent that you are eager to both give and receive with joy; that you are eager to embrace your dependence on God – the most universally true aspect of what it means to be human.
If you learn to more deeply enjoy your dependence on God, you will learn what serving with dignity is all about. Serving with dignity is all about actively participating in God’s economy of serving – recognizing his gifts, receiving his gifts, sharing his gifts. He has all the resources. He has all the assets. Thankfully, he dispenses his assets with mindboggling graciousness. Humans are the recipients of his grace, the sharers of his gifts. Serving with dignity is first about receiving these gifts, which are usually dispensed through the agency other people. And then it is about sharing these gifts in kind – with empathy, compassion, and generosity.