Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It Costs How Much?

Talk about a serve ball! I think it would be good to hit that ball by responding about Norway. What a trip that was! I am Norwegian and had a lifelong dream to visit the land of my father. I am an ordained minister but more importantly a radical follower of Jesus Christ. To combine these two was golden. Along with all the things David mentioned yesterday, I was able to visit the church that was the mother church of Norwegian Pentecostalism. I had my picture taken in this church with my sort of spiritual grandparents. I did a short video presentation for class last summer tracing my personal spiritual history back to the Azusa Street Revival via Norway. You can see it here. I can do that on my mother’s side as well – but honestly, who cares?  What is important is that I know Jesus now, not what my parents or ancestors knew. Nonetheless, I am very thankful for my unique and strong spiritual heritage.

Me in Filadelphia church by the relief of Thomas Ball Barratt and his wife Laura

As much as I want to talk about Norway, I think God has sent me another ball to hit for this blog today about serving. Where I learned the most about serving and death to self (they do go hand in hand you know) was when I owned my own coffee shop. I had taken courses in “total quality management” as a municipal administrator, so I knew the concepts of customer service. I knew that it was always about “serving your customer” whoever that was or how it looked. However, when you own your own business, it is different.
I had this dream (now I wonder if it wasn’t a nightmare) of owning a bookstore. I think 95% of my friends have had that same dream. I wanted a coffee bar inside my bookstore – you know, a mini-Barnes & Nobles. Of course, I wanted to sell Christian books and be a witness for the Lord. My dream first came in Connecticut.

My husband thought he was fulfilling my dream, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be.  Are they ever fulfilled like you think they will be? I got the coffee part of the dream. I started out with great equipment for drip coffee and went through several household espresso machines. We had bought a commercial one on ebay but it never worked except for the steamer. It was a $1500 steamer and nothing more.

I never had any books in the shop other than some books for people to read while they were there. We did play Christian music and I did often stop what I was doing and pray for people. It was a Christian business.
Serving people is hard. Anyone who works with the “public” knows that. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. to go and make coffee, make the gravy and the biscuits, bake some cookies, and all the other early morning tasks. I felt at times like I was on autopilot as I scurried across the cement floor. I was alone most mornings. We never could afford to hire help. Our help was my daughter who did an amazing job but was also pregnant or caring for her infant daughter most of the time we owned the shop.

I learned that serving is hard work. I learned that serving is sacrificial. Everything I desired for myself was put on hold so that the customer could be pleased and taken care of. I had no boss other than myself. I was worse to myself than any boss I ever had before.

I also learned that serving requires everything you have, all your resources, all your energy, all your time – ALL, EVERYTHING, TOTAL! Perhaps that is why when we talk about serving the Lord and serving His body, the church (not the building, the people) we want to run the other way.

I worked my tail off and then some. I ruined my knees forever scurrying around on that concrete floor. We lost a lot of money. We didn’t lose everything, but it took a huge toll on everything in our life.  Serving is hard. And yet, during this Holy Week I wonder, how is your serve? Are you willing to take up your cross and follow? It cost Jesus everything. He said if we want to be great we must be the servant of all. ALL? Does that mean all of you? What do you think?

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