I spent the past week serving families in the Cincinnati area with a group of 22 students from our church. It was a blast anda ton of great things are happening out of the week. It was great to step back and admire our work and to see the smiles on the faces of the people we’d helped. Everyone, that is, but one particular gentleman…
First thing Thursday morning, we headed to a house to tackle a “short couple hour long” job. Many hours later, we hurried away, hot, tired and frustrated.
Nothing we did was right…
- He asked us to “take a bush out down to the roots.” As we were hacking the stump out of the ground, he completely freaked out that we’d killed his prized, 30-year-old bush.
- He asked us to remove a branch that was hanging over his deck. After it was down, he was unhappy that it was lopped instead of sawed. (In my book, cut down is cut down.)
- He asked us trim the bushes in his landscape. Over the next hour, he complained that we didn’t have electric trimmers. (I didn’t entirely disagree with this one though.)
- He wanted us to drain, clean and refill his fish pond. But apparently, there’s a right and a completely wrong way to scrub scum off a concrete wall. Guess which way we chose…
- He wanted the vines hanging from his roof pinned to the house away from the front door with nails. After pointing out how it was clearly wrong, he went up the ladder himself to tackle the job.
- Basically, he was unhappy that “they sent children to do a man’s job.” And he freely shared that with everyone that walked down the sidewalk.
Actually, now that I think about it, maybe frustrated is an understatement…
The worst part was that we were doing exactly what he had asked for. But there was no way on earth we were going to please him. Over the previous two days, we’d been spoiled by super-appreciative folks and were a little in shock at his grumbling and complaining.
I’ll be honest, my first response was a little angry. But then this little verse from Colossians popped into my head and changed everything…
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
And I was reminded… You can’t please everyone but you’re called to serve them anyway.
The joy of the work doesn’t come from their response or from the incredible finished product. The joy comes from knowing that you’ve given all your strength in service to the Kingdom.
So stop waiting for a pat on the back. Don’t be frustrated by a negative response. Refuse to be irritated by all that silliness and simply serve God.
Even if you’re being taken advantage of… It’s worth it.