It was one of those mornings when I had gone for a drive before going into the office, just to think through my day and have some down time before starting work. As I was turning onto County 8 where it winds over a scenic ridge under a canopy of trees, considering the next steps our church group should take in redefining what it means to walk with Jesus, my thoughts were interrupted by a question:
“Bob, what would you do if some guy showed up at your door one day and told you, ‘I am here to fix your wife’”?
Seriously, my first reaction was at a gut level, and did not involve much time or thought. The nice version would go something like: “You are really out of bounds here. You need to leave, and don’t come back.” You know, even if it was her brother, or her father, or a close friend, I would react the same way. What was this guy thinking?
But then the next question that came to me was, “So who do you think the Church is to Me?”
Now everything connected – this brought to mind all the times I had been that guy at the door.
Fixing or serving – So what is the difference? The Bible talks a lot about serving when it describes our part in God’s “call” – not so much about fixing. (The word “serve” shows up 207 times, 33 in the New Testament – “fix” only 5 times, twice in the New Testament referencing where to “fix” our hope.) An article by Rachel Naomi Remen, “In the Service of Life” also has some amazing insight on this. It describes serving as something that happens between equals – while a fixer by definition treats the other as more “broken”. It is so easy to look at the needs of another and consider him or her less “useful” because of a present need. But I can recall so many times when I tried to be a “fixer” and ended up being the one who probably benefitted more. Serving carries with it an implication: “I am generally just as needy as you are, but right now I can offer you something. Later I may need what you have to give, but that just means we are better off together than alone.”
I have now come to understand that serving means I offer whatever seems to benefit or empower others – without needing to be certain of an outcome. It means that I share what I have, not out of pressure or guilt, but because I can give it. Then I leave it – content that whatever benefit comes will be its own reward. There is a great freedom in this. I am only just starting to work this lesson out, but I am already finding that it is strengthening friendships and creating more space for the contributions of others in my own life.