It seems there is always a sink full of dirty dishes at The Hedge. One day last week, I was getting ready to leave and my eye caught the familiar sight in the kitchen; so I stopped, ran some water and cleaned up before I left. While I was washing, I felt a twinge of irritation rising in me over the fact that a bunch of college-aged young adults didn’t seem to know how to wash a dish after they had used it.
Dishwashing is on the list of a few things I do at the ministry that often cause me to feel some irritation. Others include picking up empty soda cans and water bottles from the tables in the living room, taking out the trash in the bathroom (because if one more person was to stomp on the trash it would explode the trashcan) and making small piles of students’ clutter that they’ve decided to leave around the building for indefinite amounts of time in hopes they will see them and take their things home.
As I was washing the other day and my irritation was rising, I sensed that the Holy Spirit was trying to lead me into a different way of thinking. The thought that started drowning out my irritation was this: ‘At least there are students here to make dirty dishes so you can serve them.”
There is an interesting passage in Mark 10:35-40 that describes how James and John came to Jesus and asked Him to grant them the privilege of sitting on His left and His right someday when He was in His glory. Jesus asked the brothers if they thought they would be able to bear the baptism that He would, soon enough, bear and they answered in the affirmative. Then Jesus said they would, indeed, receive that baptism; but it was not His decision to make as to whether or not they would sit next to Him in glory. Then in verse 41, we see how the other disciples are indignant at James and John for even asking this question.
In verses 42-45, Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus signaled to His disciples that in His kingdom, service is characterized as the sign of authority. So, to be in an authority position in the kingdom of God necessitates that one would serve others. Furthermore, when those in authority act in service, they follow in the King’s path — the same King who washed His disciples’ nasty feet knowing that 1 would betray Him and the other 11 would in one way or another, deny Him as He was murdered.
That makes dishes, soda cans, trash overflows and misplaced items seem quite insignificant. The more I’ve thought about it, the more it makes them seem like opportunities to exercise authority the way my King would have me — by serving!
Lord willing, I hope to have the opportunity to wash dishes for many more days to come. That’s what I see when I look back on the last month at The Hedge.