Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “serve”

A NEW YEAR’S CHALLENGE

I noticed something odd this Christmas season. I don’t love to shop, so I don’t go to very many stores. Plus, online buying has become quite popular with me. But when I did visit a few stores here and there, I noticed something. There were far less Salvation Army bell ringers this year than in years past. Years ago, it seemed like there were bell ringers nearly everywhere you’d go. Men and women from all walks of life would be out there ringing their bell right beside that red bucket. Some would ring vigorously. Some would ring with some rhythm and actually move and groove a little while they were ringing. Some would be very chatty and gracious as you entered or exited the store. And then some would stand there, ring quietly, and hardly acknowledge the passersby. But this year, they were few and far between. Truth be told, I kind of missed hearing the ringing.

But there’s another thing I noticed this year along with the fewer bell ringers. This is not a new thing, but it was perhaps the first time I actually paid attention. Even though there were far less of them, the sign that sits atop the red bucket caught my eye. The sign has the big red Salvation Army logo, which is quite recognizable. But right below the logo were the words “Doing the Most Good.” That struck me. About 10 years ago, they evidently adopted this new brand “Doing the Most Good.” (Yes…and I just now noticed the sign. If you didn’t know, I’m behind the times, and oblivious to most things.) The idea of the brand came from the co-founder Evangeline Booth who wrote a book that was published after World War I. In the forward, she said, “…there is no reward equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need.”

Where some people have taken offense to the brand, or motto, or slogan (or whatever you want to call it) because it sounds arrogant, I actually like it. I like it because of the challenge it presents—the reminder to be intentional and have a purpose when we’re helping, serving, and doing for others. The question isn’t where can I do good? The question is where can I do the most good? What a great challenge for us all!

The image of the sign which reads, “Doing the Most Good” has been etched in my brain the last few weeks. I even see Salvation Army trucks about town now with the same words written on them.

What would happen if we approached 2018 with similar personal motivation? What would happen if we were reminded day in and day out not to just do good, but to do the most good? What would happen if we were to ask ourselves these practical questions:

  • Where can I serve this year to not only have impact, but have the greatest impact?
  • Who can I invest in this year to not only bring significance, but bring eternal significance?
  • What kinds of things can I do this year to not only bring change, but lasting change?
  • How can I give of myself (or time, money, effort) this year to not only bring worth and value, but bring the utmost worth and value?
  • How can I be involved this year to not only produce transformation, but produce long-term transformation?

Friends, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Let us rise to the challenge. Let us be intentional. Let us set forth in 2018 with purpose. Let us do what we were created to do. Let us consider ways, places, and people to serve by doing the most good.

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WHY LOVING THE UNLOVABLE STINKS

He’s rude. He’s inappropriate. He’s foul-mouthed. He thinks he’s funny and cute. He makes snide remarks to people and doesn’t care about the outcome. He speaks his mind with total disregard for whomever he wipes out in the wake of his words. He makes more enemies than friends and couldn’t care less.

He’s the topic of frequent conversations and complaints among other residents at the senior living community where I work.

Sometimes he can be charming. Occasionally he can be sweet. But my experience is more the former than the latter.

As I walked up to the table where he was seated recently, I heard him tell his table mates, “This lady here is a real b*tch.” I don’t know if he was kidding or serious. It didn’t matter really.

This summer I personally registered him to vote and hand delivered his form to the Clay County Board of Elections in Liberty, Missouri. I’ve answered questions that he’s inquired about. I always say hello, am always friendly and reach out to him. But quite frankly it’s not easy. To be honest, I’d rather toss him out with the rest of the trash at the end of the day.

Every month, I run our Resident Council meeting. Yesterday he came. Shocker! He doesn’t attend anything…ever. Before the meeting, I make coffee for the residents and serve each one of them. It was all I could do to serve this man—who is rude, difficult, and unkind—without wanting to “accidentally” spill the coffee on him. But serve him I did. I’m pretty sure he muttered a “thank you” somewhere in there. And I thought for a hot second, “maybe this is progress.” I thought wrong. Later in the meeting he got ticked off at me and stormed out. I shook my head and moved on with the meeting.

Loving the unlovable is a real struggle. It’s frustrating. Loving the unlovable is work, there’s no reward, and it’s not any fun—three things which we spoiled, self-centered Americans aren’t particularly fond of.

I was kinda frustrated at the end of the day as I reflected back. My conversation with Jesus at that point went something like this:

“I’m done. I’m not wasting my time with that guy anymore.”

“Love him anyway.”

“But it’s pure work.”

“Indeed it is. But love him anyway.”

“But I never see any progress in my love for him.”

“Doesn’t matter. Love him anyway.”

“But I served that guy coffee today, adding cream and sugar just the way he likes it, and this is the thanks I get in return?”

“Yes! And by the way…it’s not about you!”

“This straight up stinks!”

“Maybe to you. But your loving the unlovable is a sweet fragrance to Me.”

Deep breath. Reboot. Got it.

You see…whether we know it or not…whether we feel it or not…whether we see progress or not…the sweet fragrance of the likeness of Christ can be an irresistible pull toward the Savior.

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